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Mastitis – Treatments, symptoms and causes

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Mastitis is a breast inflammation that can be accompanied by an infection.

In most cases, it occurs during the first six weeks after delivery, but it can also develop at any other time during or even outside the lactation period. Mastitis can also occur in women who are not breastfeeding. It can occur even in young babies, both boys and girls.

Puerperal mastitis, during lactation, can be caused, among other things, by incomplete emptying of the chest. Milk stagnation and inflammation, if not treated properly, clogged milk ducts, and swollen breasts can also cause mastitis.

What’s causing it?

It’s unclear why some women have breast inflammation and others don’t, but in most cases, it’s usually caused by bacteria and not other germs. The bacterium is often staph aureus. This bacteria can enter glandular tissue through the dairy ducts, through blood, or through nipple cracks.

Although this is not a rule, since there are women who do not have nipple pain sometimes they also have inflammation in the breasts, and women with cracks in the nipples do not necessarily develop an infection.

A clogged milk duct usually occurs due to irregular and insufficient breast emptying because your baby doesn’t drink properly, for example, because it always presses on the chest in the same place or because the time between two meals is too long. Other causes can also cause this, such as an over-tight bra or tight clothing.

Breast infection or blocked milk duct?

A breast infection is different from one or more blocked milk ducts. A clogged channel is not inflamed, so antibiotics are not needed to treat it. If it is important to take care and check that a blocked milk duct does not develop into breast infection.

Women who breastfeed may experience this, as breasts contain channels ranging from tissue from the mammary gland to the nipple, the so-called “dairy ducts.” This causes milk to flow when a woman is breastfeeding. Breast infection often begins with a blocked milk duct. This causes the milk duct and mammary glands behind the blockage to fill up. The pressure increases and the milk then leak into the breast tissue, resulting in this type of inflammation. This creates a painful, slightly hardened, and warm area near the nipple that can cause discomfort.

Clogged milk ducts almost always disappear spontaneously (without treatment) within 24 to 48 hours of onset. Only in some cases, a clogged milk duct becomes infected and is when it develops mastitis. Therefore, some cases develop as a complication of a blocked milk duct, but it can also occur without a previous blockage, as I said earlier.

With a blocked milk duct, there is a painful, swollen hard spot in the chest. At the site of the blockage, the skin is often quite red, but not as intensely red as breast inflammation. Unlike a breast infection, a blocked canal is usually not accompanied by fever. Mastitis is usually more painful than a blocked milk duct, although both can be very painful and cause badness to be.

Mastitis also affects other people (non-postpartum mastitis). This may include women who are not breastfeeding, and very rarely occur in men. Especially women with a weakened immune system can be prone to weakening the immune system. It can also occur in women who have already had surgery for a tumor with radiation therapy and women with diabetes. Also after a nipple piercing, breast inflammation can sometimes also develop.

Symptoms of breast inflammation

Breast inflammation usually occurs in a breast and may recognize it by the following symptoms:

– With an initial or imminent breast infection, part of the breast becomes red and warm and is very sensitive to touch.

– If an infection develops, the swelling becomes painful, you may develop a fever and feel sick (flu-like symptoms).

– You feel a lot of pain feeding your baby.

– You have a painful and hard lump in your chest.

– You can also have a nipple discharge with pus.

– You can feel the chest warm and tender, with itching and redness of the area.

– In some cases the lymph nodes in the armpit or neck become inflamed.

– You may feel fatigued and headaches.

Possible complications

In some cases the cavity can be filled with pus, this is known with breast abscess. Symptoms are usually severe pain, swelling, and redness of the breast, and a painful lump may appear under the skin. There may be nipple discharge. In addition, it is often accompanied by persistent fever and there is no improvement in symptoms within 48-72 hours.

When to contact a doctor?

If the process continues and you have a fever above 38.5 degrees, it’s best to contact your doctor. Your doctor will likely prescribe an antibiotic that you can follow your little one’s breastfeeding normally. Remember that feeding it with both breasts is important and necessary. When you stop breastfeeding suddenly, the milk stays in your breasts, making inflammation worse.

Diagnostic exam

– Physical examination:

Diagnosis of mastitis or breast inflammation can usually be made based on a physical exam.

– Ultrasound:

If it is unclear whether a mass is the result of pus or another problem, an ultrasound may be performed. An ultrasound can also be helpful in distinguishing between simple mastitis or with pus in your chest. If an abscess is diagnosed, you may be recommended for aspiration or surgical drainage, as well as antibiotics. Likewise, this is not usually given.

– Cultivation

A culture of breast milk or material extracted from an abscess may be taken through a syringe to determine which bacteria are causing the infection. This information can help determine which antibiotic to prescribe.

– Mammography

Women who are not breastfeeding, or those who do not respond to treatment, may require a mammogram or breast biopsy. This is to exclude other types of problems.

Self-care

First, try to prevent breast inflammation by practicing good hygiene during lactation. Always wash your hands thoroughly and take care of your nipples while keeping them clean and hydrated. You can often cut the initial problem in the breast by always placing the baby on the affected breast first and making sure it is well-drained. If your baby hasn’t emptied the painful side enough, it’s a good idea to do it yourself with the milk pump. If you’re sore, cool it with cold compresses. This can help relieve pain and help it heal more quickly.

Make sure that before you start feeding your baby again, give your breasts time to be at an appropriate temperature to breastfeed, for example by taking a warm shower or with compresses. This ensures that the milk carcasses open better, and makes it easier for your baby to take the chest better. During feeding, you can help by doing a light chest massage from the outside to the nipple. This pushes the milk in the right direction. Put the baby in different positions when feeding. After it’s over, you can use a cold compress again, as it can help relieve pain or relieve the feeling of tension.

Medical care, treatment for mastitis

Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to fight the bacterial infection. You can continue to breastfeed during antibiotic treatment, but your doctor should know that you’re breastfeeding to prescribe the right medication. If breastfeeding is difficult for you, you can use a milk extractor to facilitate the process, to know how to successfully extract and conserve milk I leave here this article that can be very useful.

With an abscess, you can make pus drainage worse. In that case, breastfeeding is not always possible, always consult all this with your doctor. Antibiotics are often very effective in treating a bacterial infection. You’ll probably feel much better in two days, but it’s important to finish all treatment.

Breastfeeding Mastitis What can you do to prevent it?

Sometimes mastitis in women is inevitable, but you can take steps to try to avoid it. Some women are more sensitive than others, especially women who are breastfeeding for the first time.

– Try to create a routine and breastfeed equally on both breasts.

– Try to completely empty your breasts to avoid congestion and clogged milk ducts.

– Use good lactation methods to prevent cracked and painful nipples.

– Avoid dehydration by drinking many fluids.

-Perform proper hygiene, wash hands and clean nipples, and if you use breastfeeding utensils, disinfect them properly after each use.

– Don’t be overwhelmed or let time go without breastfeeding your baby because it can be harmful to breastfeeding. The best thing is that in case of any doubt contact your doctor to advise you what is best to do in your case.

All the information we give you in this article is indicative as each mom and family are different and unique.

Carolina González Ramos

Edda Virtual Solutions

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