Difference between Mastoiditis and Otitis Media

Mastoiditis and Otitis Media are two different ear conditions that are often confused due to their similar symptoms. Both conditions affect the middle ear, but they have distinct causes and treatment methods.

What is Mastoiditis?

Mastoiditis is an infection of the air cells located in the mastoid bone, which is typically a consequence of an ear infection caused by bacteria.

  • Symptoms − Mastoiditis manifests as discomfort, pain, redness, and swelling in the area around the mastoid process. Along with otitis media, mastoiditis typically manifests with a high temperature and severe ear discomfort. It's also possible for fluid to seep from your ear.

  • Diagnosis − Physical examination and symptom observation are the mainstays of diagnosis. Mastoiditis may also be diagnosed and the severity of the infection evaluated through imaging, such as a CT scan.

  • Causes and complications − Mastoiditis typically results from a bacterial ear infection that has progressed and spread. Similar bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli, Streptococcus pneumonia and Haemophilus influenzae, can cause otitis media as well as mastoiditis. Mastoiditis is a potentially life-threatening infection that, if left untreated, can lead to meningitis and other brain abscesses around the dura.

  • Treatment − Ceftriaxone is an antibiotic that is typically administered intravenously once day for a total of 14 days. Other frequent antibiotics besides ceftriaxone include linezolid and vancomycin. All contaminated tissue, including air cells, must be removed surgically if an abscess forms.

What is Otitis Media?

Otitis media is an infection of the middle ear caused by either a virus or a bacteria, and it can happen after an infection of the upper respiratory tract.

  • Symptoms − Fever, nausea, and diarrhoea are all symptoms of otitis media. The youngster may also be experiencing some hearing loss and ear ache. When a baby has an illness, it might cause them to become fussy. Fluid frequently drains from the ear in children with otitis media.

  • Diagnosis − A physician may use an otoscope to inspect the ear canal and make a diagnosis. Otitis medium is characterised by redness and swelling of the eardrum. Drainage of fluid from the ear canal may also be observed by the doctor. Children, in particular, often complain of middle ear infections.

  • Causes and complications − Ear infections can be caused by a number of different bacteria and viruses, and they are sometimes a subsequent consequence of a cold or the flu. S. aureus and E. coli are two of the most prevalent bacterial causes of the illness. Otitis media has been linked to S. pneumoniae and H. influenzae. Ear infections have been linked to a wide variety of bacterial species, including Klebsiella sp. and Pseudomonas sp. Mastoiditis and its sequelae are examples of otitis media complications.

  • Treatment − The use of analgesics like ibuprofen or Tylenol is part of the treatment. A round of antibiotics may also be prescribed for the kid. Myringotomies are performed by doctors to alleviate ear pressure. If fluid or pressure has built up behind the eardrum, a minor incision can be made to release some of the pressure. Because of the potential for antibiotic overuse and misuse in the treatment of ear infections, clinicians must exercise caution when writing prescriptions.

Differences: Mastoiditis and Otitis Media

The following table highlights the major differences between Mastoiditis and Otitis Media −



Otitis Media


An infection of the mastoid's air cells is known as mastoiditis.

The middle ear infection known as otitis media can be caused by either bacteria or viruses.

Causative agent

It is a bacteria that causes the mastoiditis.

Both viruses and bacteria can trigger middle ear infections.


Mastoiditis is characterised by discomfort, tenderness, redness, and swelling around the mastoid region.

Otitis media is characterised by ear discomfort, hearing loss, irritability, nausea, vomiting, fever, diarrhoea, and the drainage of fluid from the ear.


Mastoiditis is a common consequence of a bacterial ear infection called otitis media.

Infection of the middle ear, also known as otitis media, can be caused by a number of different bacteria, including S. aureus, E. coli, and H. influenzae, or by viruses.


Mastoiditis is treated with antibiotics, most often ceftriaxone but also vancomycin; sometimes, little surgery is required to remove the affected tissue.

Symptoms of otitis media can be alleviated with pain medication, antibiotics, and/or a myringotomy.


Aquaporins, ion channels for chloride, potassium, calcium, and sodium, and so on are all examples of channel proteins.

Sodium-potassium pump, glucose-sodium cotransport, valinomycin, etc. are all examples of carrier proteins.


In conclusion, Mastoiditis and Otitis Media are two different ear conditions that affect the middle ear. Mastoiditis is an infection of the mastoid bone that occurs as a complication of otitis media, while Otitis Media is an infection of the middle ear that typically occurs in children.

Both conditions have distinct causes and treatment methods, and it is important to seek medical attention to correctly diagnose and treat the condition.

Updated on: 21-Apr-2023


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