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Acute mastoiditis: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About acute mastoiditis

Acute mastoiditis is a sudden onset bacterial infection of the mastoid, which is a small bone located just behind the ear.

Acute mastoiditis: Incidence, age and sex

Although acute mastoiditis may be seen in any age group, it is more common in children, especially infants. At present, it is seldom encountered due to the extensive use of antibiotics for treating bacterial infections.

Signs and symptoms of acute mastoiditis: Diagnosis

The clinical features of acute mastoiditis include fever, pain and swelling behind the ear. The pain enhances on applying gentle pressure on the swelling. As a result of the infection, the normal honeycomb structure of air pockets is disrupted leading to the collection of pus in the mastoid. In some instances, the ear on the affected side seems pushed out and quite prominent. This is caused by a high concentration of pus in the mastoid.

Causes and prevention of acute mastoiditis

The mastoid is part of the skull bone situated just behind the ear. It consists of several air pockets which are arranged in a honeycomb fashion and are separated from one another by thin bony partitions. These air pockets of mastoid bone are connected with the ear. Hence a severe middle ear infection left untreated, may spread to the mastoid causing mastoiditis. It is very rare for mastoid infection to occur on its own.

Acute mastoiditis: Complications

The complications of acute mastoiditis are rare. But if ear infections and acute mastoiditis are left untreated for a long time, they can result in hearing loss in the affected ear. This hearing loss can vary from partial to complete, depending upon the severity of infection. In addition to this, it can also cause a particular type of dizziness called vertigo. At times when the swelling is quite enormous, it can compress the facial nerve and cause facial nerve palsy on the affected side. Brain abscess and meningitis may occur if the infection spreads to the brain.

Acute mastoiditis: Treatment

Acute mastoiditis can be simply diagnosed with the help of typical clinical features. Your doctor may like to confirm the diagnosis by a CT scan which may show destruction of bony partitions between the air pockets. Antibiotics are the mainstay of treatment. Acute mastoiditis along with ear infection, if any, should be treated with appropriate antibiotics. Collection of pus in the mastoid may need to be drained surgically.

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