Mastoiditis: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 2/10/2021

Mastoiditis is an inflammation due to infection of the mastoid bone, which is located behind the ear. It can be a serious infection if it spreads outside of the mastoid.

Signs and symptoms of mastoiditis include

  • ear pain or pain behind the ear,
  • swelling of the areas behind the ear,
  • fever,
  • tenderness over the mastoid bone,
  • fatigue,
  • headache, and
  • ear discharge (otorrhea) that can include pus.

Other associated symptoms and signs can include redness of the affected area and symptoms of an ear infection, such as a sense of fullness in the ear, and hearing loss.

Cause of mastoiditis

Mastoiditis is most often caused by a middle ear infection (otitis media) that goes untreated, allowing bacterial infection to spread to the mastoid bone.

Other mastoiditis symptoms and signs

  • Ear Discharge (Otorrhea) That Can Include Pus
  • Ear Pain or Pain Behind the Ear
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Hearing Loss
  • Redness of the Affected Area
  • Swelling of the Areas Behind the Ear
  • Symptoms of an Ear Infection, Such as a Sense of Fullness in the Ear
  • Tenderness Over the Mastoid Bone


Ear Infection Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment See Slideshow

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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.