Mastitis – a condition that a woman may experience after or during the lactation period (lactation Mastitis). It troubles women who don’t nurse and sometimes men as well.
What Is Mastitis?
Mastitis is the inflammation evolving in the tissues of mammary glands inside the breasts.
It starts developing within 6 to 12 weeks of breastfeeding but may happen up to 2 years later as well.
The pain and discomfort are so unbearable that it makes a mom give up on feeding her little one. However, once the infection eases off, the mother can resume breastfeeding without any complications.
There Are Ideally Two Types Of Mastitis:
It’s also called ad puerperal mastitis and primarily impacts nursing mothers.
Also called mammary duct ectasia. Develops in menopausal and postmenopausal women and sometimes in men too.
Smokers are at high risk as cigarette substances damage the ducts behind the nipple and may impede the healing process post-treatment.
The Signs And Symptoms
- Developing wedge-shaped pattern, red mark on one breast (rarely affects both breasts).
- Swollen, red, and tender breasts.
- The affected area hurts when touched.
- Breast lumps
- Pain or burning sensation in the breast. It might be worse when feeding a baby.
Patients Also Observe The Following Symptoms:
- Stress, anxiety
- Nausea, vomiting
- Illness such as fever, chills, headache, or bacterial infection.
- Nipple discharge
Probable Risk Factors Of Mastitis:
Plugged milk duct is the most significant cause of mastitis. Let’s check how.
- If the baby does not latch to the breast properly.
- Facing difficulty while sucking milk.
- Infrequently breastfeeding.
- The milk duct is blocked because of the pressure on the breast due to tight clothing.
Hence, the above-mentioned reasons cause milk stasis and do not express out while feeding and remain in the breast.
Secondly, bacteria do not survive in fresh human milk. Even if the milk stagnates, then the infection may persist as bacteria enter the breast through the surface of the cracked nipple skin. Stagnant milk creates a favorable environment for bacteria breeding.
If the breast doesn’t get emptied, one of the milk ducts might be blocked, which causes the milk to back up and leads to breast infection.
Bacteria from the skin surface or the baby’s mouth can enter the milk duct via the cracked nipple skin.
Other Possible Causative Factors Involve:
- Postponing or skipping breastfeeding
- Previously had mastitis
- Using only one position for feeding, thus resisting the milk flow.
- Improper nursing technique
Factors That Cause Mastitis Apart From Breastfeeding:
- Breast implants
- Nipple piercing done at unregistered piercing studios.
- Autoimmune disease or diabetes
- Skin conditions like Eczema or others
- Nicotine addiction
- Poor dietary habits
- Plucking or shaving chest hair
Diagnosis Of Mastitis
- Mastitis is relatively easy to investigate.
- Tests are performed based on the breast examination and symptoms that appeared.
- If it’s a nursing mother, then a milk sample is taken to analyze any infection. This helps to analyze the type of bacterial infection to proceed further with the treatment.
- If not breastfeeding, then inflammatory breast cancer can be suspected as it has similar symptoms to mastitis. Mammography is performed to rule out complications.
How Is Mastitis Treated?
Mastitis treatment options are the following:
The Antibiotic Treatment
If a patient complains about redness or breast swelling, then ten course of antibiotics is prescribed, and it is required to complete the course to minimize the chance of recurrence.
If it is not treated with antibiotics, then consult the doctor.
A doctor may prescribe pain relievers like Ibuprofen, Tylenol, or others to heal the pain.
Self-care Techniques Or Home Remedies That Can Resolve A Blocked Duct:
- Increase your fluid intake and rest adequately.
- Frequent breastfeeding or expressing the milk.
- Start feeding with the affected breast to ease the pain.
- Try different feeding positions often.
- Apply warm compresses to the affected area repetitively or take a warm shower.
- Apply cool compresses or ice packs to the breast after feeding.
- Massage the affected area while feeding or pumping in a circular motion starting at the outside of the breast towards the inner nipple area.
- Wear a supportive bra that does not compress the breast.
- Make sure that a baby latches on correctly, which might be difficult when the breast is engorged.
There are many complications that may arise. Recurrence might happen from delayed or inadequate treatment. The abscess may evolve as accumulated pus in the breasts, which would need surgical draining or IV antibiotic treatment. Septicemia is a life-threatening condition that could arise if the infection is left untreated.