Medical Q&As

Mastoiditis - explain?

I had a ct scan recently for severe headaches and it has been suggested that I may have mastoiditis. Can you give me some information on the condition as the earliest appointment I can get with a specialist is four weeks away and I am a little worried about the condition?

Mastoiditis is an infection of the mastoid bone, which is situated behind the ear. It usually occurs as a consequence of middle ear infection where the bacteria spread from the middle chamber of the ear into the immediately adjacent honeycomb-like structure of the mastoid bone. Nowadays it is a much less common problem than in the past due to the widespread availability of effective antibiotics for combating ear infection. Prompt diagnosis and early treatment of ear infection have been the major factors in reducing the incidence of mastoiditis. The symptoms may include pain behind the ear, redness of the ear or behind the ear, fever, headache and in some cases there may be a discharge from the ear. A skull X-ray or CT scan may show an abnormality in the mastoid bone. Mastoiditis is treated with antibiotics, which may need to be taken for an extended period of time because it may be difficult for medications to reach deep enough into the mastoid bone if taken in short courses. Sometimes antibiotics may need to be given by injection. If antibiotic treatment is not successful the mastoid bone may need to be drained in a procedure known as a mastoidectomy. Mastoiditis is a curable condition but treatment may have to be given over an extended period of time in order to fully eradicate the infection.