Written by Amy Hall
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The mastoid is the bony structure behind the ear that has a honeycomb-like structure. When chronic otitis media goes unchecked, or the infections do not respond to antibiotic therapy, the mastoid structure behind the ear can become infected. The bacteria can infiltrate the air cells of the mastoid causing acute mastioditis, potentially more serious diseases and even death.

Mastoiditis was much more prominent long ago when we did not have access to such a wide range of powerful antibiotics. Today, it is very uncommon that children, who are more prone to this condition, will have to undergo surgery to correct the problem. In countries where antibiotics are not as accessible, mastoidectomy is much more commonly performed to correct the problem.

Symptoms of mastoiditis include redness behind or on the ears, pain, headache, high fever, and possibly drainage from the ear. If your child suffers from middle ear infections frequently, it is very important that you keep close tabs on any signs that the ears are causing pain and discomfort. As soon as you notice your child crying, pulling on the ear, having difficulty sleeping, or basically seeming out of sorts, it is wise to bring your child to the pediatrician immediately for an examination of the ears.

Keeping the Mastoid Healthy

If your child has recurring ear infections that are resistant to antibiotics, your pediatrician may recommend that tubes be placed in the ears. You will be given a referral to an ear specialist that can go over the procedure with you. Basically, small incisions are made in the eardrums, and tiny tubes are placed in the openings to facilitate drainage of fluid from the middle ear. Within a few months, the tubes tend to fall out on their own, and repeat surgery is infrequently unnecessary. Your pediatrician may strongly feel that this is the best way to prevent mastoiditis from occurring in your child.

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