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Mastoiditis: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

Mastoiditis (say "mass-toy-DY-tus") means the bone behind the ear is infected. An ear problem may start with a cold. Sometimes the infection spreads to areas outside of the middle ear. This can cause new problems, such as a bone infection.

The swelling behind your ear can push the ear forward. As the swelling goes away, the ear will move back to its normal place. Your doctor may have drained fluid from the middle ear. You may have had ear tubes put in your ear to drain fluid over time.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Be careful when taking over-the-counter cold or flu medicines and Tylenol at the same time. Many of these medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Read the labels to make sure that you are not taking more than the recommended dose. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Place a warm, moist face cloth on the ear to see if it helps relieve pain.
  • Ask your doctor if you need to take extra care to keep water from getting in the ears when bathing or swimming.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have symptoms of worsening infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.
  • You seem to be getting sicker.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You notice changes in your hearing.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.