One of the most important parts of our body is the ear. Mastoid air cells are surrounding the inner and middle ear. When these air cells get affected by bacteria, the cells become infected or inflamed and as a result of unresolved middle ear infection, Mastoiditis can develop.
There are two types of mastoiditis:-
- Acute mastoiditis –
It is caused by the sudden occurrence of inflammation which can spread outside the mastoid bone and can cause serious problems.
- Chronic mastoiditis –
In this type, there will be an ongoing middle ear infection and persistent drainage from the ear
The symptoms for the ear infection and mastoiditis are similar. They are –
- Ear pain
- Hair loss in the affected ear
- Drainage from the affected ear
- Redness, swelling, and tenderness behind the affected ear
Sometimes mastoiditis results in the complications involving your skull like brain abscess. For conditions like these symptoms include severe headache and swelling behind your eyes. The swelling is known as papilledema.
Mastoiditis risk factors
There are various risk factors for mastoiditis that are related to acute otitis media risk factors. People who are having the following things are at a higher risk –
- Upper respiratory tract infection
- Previous history of acute otitis media
- Passive smoker
- Smoking during pregnancy and
- Low social status
Mastoiditis is usually caused due to the untreated middle ear infection. If it is not treated then it can spread to your inner ear, invading the sacs of the mastoid bone. This will disintegrate the mastoid bone.
It is most common in children, and can also occur in adults.
As mastoiditis is a problem related to the mastoid bone of your ear, the doctor will examine your ear and head to determine if the infection has spread to your mastoid bone. It might be possible that the bone will not be visible due to infection. There are few tests which are performed by the doctor to confirm the diagnosis. They are:
- An X-ray of your skull,
- A CT scan of your ear and head
- An MRI scan of your ear and head
- A white blood cell count to confirm the presence of an infection
If the tests confirm a diagnosis of the disease, your doctor may also perform a lumbar puncture or spinal tap. This will help the doctor to determine if the infection is present in your spinal column.
If mastoiditis is not treated well it will result in a life-threatening condition. Initial treatment for severe infection may include –
- Antibiotic medication through a vein in your arm or intravenously, while at the hospital
- Oral antibiotics after leaving the hospital, at home.
If the infection persists after the treatment with antibiotics, surgery may be necessary. It involves removing part of your mastoid bone to drain the infection. To successfully treat the infection, doctors may also need to drain your middle ear of infected fluid.
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Prevention of mastoiditis
Mastoiditis can be prevented in the following ways –
- Effectively treat all ear infections
- Seek prompt medical attention
- Follow doctor’s advice which may include taking oral antibiotics for 7 to 10 days.