Dr. M. J. Bazos, Patient Handout

About Your Diagnosis
Mastoiditis is an infection of the mastoid process behind the ear. It is caused by bacteria, most commonly Haemophilus influenzae, Staphylococcus, or Streptococcus. Mastoiditis results in the destruction of the bony portion of the mastoid process. It can be a complication of an untreated middle ear infection. Mastoiditis is curable with antibiotic therapy, but advanced cases may require surgery to remove the infected bone and surrounding area. The major complication of the disease is hearing loss.

Living With Your Diagnosis
Symptoms can appear 2 weeks or more after the onset of an untreated middle ear infection. They include pain, redness, tenderness, and swelling behind the ear; increased pain in the affected ear; fever; dizziness; nausea; drainage from the affected ear; and decreased hearing in the affected ear.

Identification of the bacteria causing the infection must first be done. A culture of the ear drainage will accomplish this. Antibiotics will be prescribed
accordingly. The antibiotics must be continued for at least 2 weeks. If an abscess occurs, surgical drainage of the infected bone may be needed.

The DOs
• Take antibiotics until finished.
• Use nonaspirin products for fever and pain.
• Keep the ear clean and dry. A light cotton ball placed on the outer canal may be helpful to absorb drainage.
• Rest until symptoms subside, especially dizziness.
• Increase fluid intake during the fever.

The DON’Ts
• Don’t skip doses or stop taking antibiotics until finished.
• Don’t miss follow-up appointments with your doctor. It is important to make sure the infection is cleared.

When to Call Your Doctor
• If you continue to have a fever while taking antibiotics.
• If you have a severe headache, dizziness, weakness,or increased pain.
• If you have nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
• If a rash develops.

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