Mastoiditis is an inflammation or infection of the mastoid bone, which is a portion of the temporal bone. The mastoid consists of air cells that drain the middle ear. Mastoiditis can be a mild infection or can develop into life-threatening complications. Mastoiditis is usually a complication of acute otitis media (middle ear infection).
Mastoiditis is usually a result of an extension of the inflammation of the middle ear infection into the mastoid air cells. A child with mastoiditis usually has a history of having a recent ear infection or has middle ear infections that continue to reoccur. The risk of mastoiditis is reduced with the use of antibiotics for ear infections. Mastoiditis may be caused by various bacteria.
The following are the most common symptoms for mastoiditis. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of mastoiditis may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your child's doctor for a diagnosis.
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, your child's doctor will inspect the outer ear(s) and eardrum(s) using an otoscope. The otoscope is a lighted instrument that allows the doctor to see inside of the ear. A pneumatic otoscope blows a puff of air into the ear to test eardrum movement. The otoscope is used to diagnose otitis media.
Tympanometry, a test that can be performed in most doctors' offices to help determine how the middle ear is functioning. It does not tell if the child is hearing or not, but helps to detect any changes in pressure in the middle ear. This is a difficult test to perform in younger children because the child needs to sit very still and not be crying, talking, or moving.
Your child's doctor may also order the following tests to help confirm the diagnosis:
If your child has symptoms of a brain abscess or other intracranial complication, your child's doctor may order the following:
If your child has symptoms of meningitis, your child's doctor may order a:
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