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Mastoiditis: Care Instructions


Mastoiditis (say "mass-toy-DY-tus") is an infection that affects the bone behind the ear. It most often occurs after an ear infection. Sometimes an ear infection can spread to areas outside of the ear. This can cause new problems, like mastoiditis.

The swelling behind your ear can push the ear forward. As the swelling goes away, the ear will move back to its normal place.

Antibiotics are the most common treatment for mastoiditis. If the antibiotics don't work, you may need ear tubes put in your ears to help 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 advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) 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 prescribed medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you aren't taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever.
  • Take your antibiotics as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Be careful if you are taking over-the-counter cold or influenza (flu) medicines and Tylenol at the same time. Many of them have acetaminophen (Tylenol). Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful. Read labels to make sure that you're not taking more than the recommended dose.
  • Place a warm, moist face cloth on the ear to help 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 advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse symptoms of infection, which may be an abscess. Signs of infection include:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.
  • You have a severe headache.
  • You have new hearing loss.
  • You can't move one side of your face.
  • You are dizzy or have vertigo.

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

  • You do not get better as expected.

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.