Acute otitis media, chronic otitis media, and cholesteatoma can cause severe problems. Often the first complication is infection of the mastoid bone (the bone behind the ear), which is called mastoiditis. Once the bone gets infected, the infection tends to spread rapidly to cause even more serious problems.
The disease may go into the inner ear and cause permanent hearing loss or dizziness. It may cause facial paralysis. The disease can spread into the brain, causing meningitis, a brain abscess, cerebrospinal fluid leak or an encephalocele (brain sinking down into the ear).
Patients usually experience pain and swelling behind the ear, pain and fever. They often have been diagnosed with an ear infection and treated with several courses of oral antibiotics without relief.
Our physicians check for mastoiditis and other complications of ear infections with a careful physical exam and hearing test. Sometimes a CT scan is needed.
Management strategies include antibiotics and often surgery.