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Mastitis

Mastitis, Mastitis Symptoms Mastitis treatment blocked milk duct Risk Factors of Mastitis Types of Mastitis Mastitis Disease

Overview

Mastitis is a condition of the breast which causes inflammation and swelling of the breast tissue. It commonly occurs in women who are nursing but, in some cases, it occurs in women not currently lactating as well.  

Types of Mastitis

Mastitis is usually categorised into two types based on the underlying cause of the mastitis. If there is no infection accompanying the inflammation, it is called milk stasis.  

Milk stasis is a condition where there is a build-up of milk in lactating women. If left untreated, it can result in an infection as the blocked milk provides an ideal environment for bacterial growth. Most commonly, it is an infection which causes mastitis or inflammation of the breast. If mastitis occurs in women who are not lactating, it is referred to as periductal mastitis.

About The Condition

Bacterial infection is the most common cause of mastitis in both lactating and non-lactating women. The bacteria can enter the breast via a tear/crack in the nipple or milk ducts. In case of mastitis caused by a blocked milk duct, leaving it untreated also results in infection. A blocked milk duct is usually caused due to improper feeding technique or wearing tight constrictive clothing.   

Risk factors for Mastitis

A few risk factors have been laid out to identify women more prone to developing mastitis: 

  1. Breastfeeding women (especially a few weeks after childbirth) 
  2. Improper breastfeeding technique 
  3. Wearing tight and constricting clothing 
  4. History of mastitis  
  5. Having sore or cracked nipples 

Symptoms

You might have mastitis if you see any of the following symptoms: 

  1. A red or swollen area in your breast 
  2. Tenderness and pain in the affected area 
  3. The affected area feels hot to touch 
  4. If you are experiencing a burning pain in your breast  
  5. If you experience flu like symptoms (fever, body ache, chills etc) 

Diagnosis of Mastitis

If you are nursing, your doctor would conduct a physical exam to check for tenderness and inflammation. Your doctor would look for a painful wedge-shape area in the breast which is considered a clear indicator of mastitis.  

In case you are not breastfeeding, your doctor might recommend additional diagnostic tests such as breast ultrasound, MRI, mammogram or biopsy to identify the cause of the mastitis.  

Treatment of Mastitis

  1. Some home remedies such as changing your breastfeeding routine/technique, gently massaging the affected area, warm compress and changing your bra can help treat mastitis in its early stages 
  2. If your symptoms don’t abate in 24 hours after following the aforementioned steps then seek medical attention 
  3. Your doctor would recommend a course of antibiotics to treat any infection 
  4. Painkillers would be prescribed to manage pain in the breast 
  5. Drain your breast of breastmilk, either by pumping or breastfeeding to avoid infection from spreading 
  6. In case of an abscess, the doctor would perform a surgery/aspiration to drain it.
Mastitis, Mastitis Symptoms Mastitis treatment blocked milk duct Risk Factors of Mastitis Types of Mastitis Mastitis Disease

Prevention

The following tips can help lower the risk of developing mastitis 

  1. Make sure your baby latches on to your nipple properly with his/her mouth wide open 
  2. Completely empty one breast before switching over to the next 
  3. Break the suction with your finger if you want to stop breastfeeding 
  4. If you are experiencing any pain during breastfeeding, consult your doctor 
  5. Avoid tight, ill-fitting bras 
  6. Maintain good breast hygiene 

FAQs

1. Can I breastfeed if I have mastitis?

Continuing breastfeeding is recommended if you are suffering from mastitis. If you are unable to do so, then it is important to properly drain your breast by pumping if necessary.

2. Is it safe for my baby if I take antibiotics during breastfeeding?

Antibiotics would be prescribed to you if you have an infection causing the mastitis. Your doctor would prescribe antibiotics that shouldn’t have any impact on breastfeeding. 

3. How long does mastitis last?

Mastitis should go away in 24-72 hours with basic home remedies. In case, the condition seems to be worsening you should seek medical attention. Mastitis if left untreated can result in a life-threatening abscess. 

4. Can I still have mastitis if I am not breastfeeding?

Mastitis can be caused by the infection of the breast. This can occur in both lactating and non-lactating women. Possibly due to an underlying infection

 
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