One of the most important structures in your inner ear is the mastoid bone. Although it’s called a bone, the mastoid doesn’t have the typical structure associated with other bones in the human body. It’s made of air sacs and resembles a sponge, rather than being solid and rigid like most bones.
Mastoiditis is a serious infection in the mastoid process, which is the hard, prominent bone just behind and under the ear. Ear infections that people fail to treat cause most cases of mastoiditis. The condition is rare but can become life-threatening without treatment.
- drainage from the affected ear
- ear pain
- hearing loss in the affected ear
- redness, swelling, and tenderness behind the affected ear
Mastoiditis is a potentially life-threatening condition. Initial treatment for a severe infection may include hospitalization. You will receive antibiotic medication through a vein in your arm, or intravenously, while at the hospital. You will need to take oral antibiotics at home for several days after leaving the hospital.
If the infection doesn’t clear up after treatment with antibiotics, surgery may be necessary. Surgery may involve removing part of your mastoid bone to drain the infection. Doctors may also need to drain your middle ear of infected fluid to successfully treat the infection.