A picture of a child's ear surfaced on social media after a concerned parent realized it wasn't a typical ear infection.
Antibiotics didn't solve the initial ear infection. Additional swelling behind the child's ear, accompanied by redness, pain and uncharacteristic behavior of the ear sticking out showed symptoms of ‘Mastoiditis'.
“Those are signs of a worsening problem with an ear infection where the infection can travel into the bone behind the ear,” Ted Mason, M.D. of Ear, Nose & Throat Surgeons of Western New England, LLC said.
Mastoiditis occurs from the movement of an infection from behind the eardrum to the bone behind the ear. At that point, the immune system has a difficult time keeping up.
“Now that antibiotics are used consistently we really don't see a lot of Mastoiditis anymore,” Mason said. “Even though I do hundreds of ear surgeries year, perhaps one or two of those is a mastoidectomy.”
Mastoiditis is uncommon after medical advances and antibiotics have prevented the infection.
Medical experts are even using research that suggests against antibiotics for ear infection.
“This initial treatment might be, take some Tylenol, take some Motrin, here's a prescription for antibiotics,” Mason said, using the social media post as an example. “As long as your child continues to be free of high fever and seems to be getting clinically better, he doesn't need to take those antibiotics, let the immune system do its work.”