Mastoiditis in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Mastoiditis (say "mass-toy-DY-tus") means a bone behind the ear is infected. It can happen when your child has many ear infections. Your child's ear problem may start with a cold and affect the middle ear. Sometimes the problem spreads to areas outside of the middle ear. Then it can cause new problems, such as a bone infection.

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

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

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask the doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
    • Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 18. It has been linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness.
  • Be careful when giving your child 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 giving your child more than the recommended dose. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • If the doctor prescribed antibiotics for your child, give them as directed. Do not stop using them just because your child feels better. Your child needs to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Place a warm, moist face cloth on your child's ear to see if it helps relieve pain.
  • Ask your doctor if your child needs 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:

  • Your child has 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.
  • Your child seems to be getting sicker.

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

  • Your child has a change in hearing.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: July 29, 2016