Mastitis is an infection that causes painful inflammation of one or both of the breasts. Untreated mastitis can potentially lead to an abscess that may require a procedure to drain pus from the breasts. By recognizing the symptoms, you’ll know when to go to your doctor for simple treatment.
What Causes Mastitis?
Mastitis most often occurs in women who are breastfeeding. This is called lactation mastitis. Milk can become trapped in the ducts, causing it not to drain properly. This can potentially lead to infection. Bacteria from lingering milk or from external sources such as your baby’s mouth or your hands can also cause mastitis.
Periductal mastitis refers to mastitis in smokers that is not linked to lactation. It also refers to mastitis occurring in menopausal and post-menopausal women. Broadening ducts are the culprit for mastitis in menopausal and post-menopausal women.
Symptoms to Watch For
Women with mastitis may experience one or several of the following symptoms:
- Swollen breasts – Your swollen breast may appear red and feel hot. Many women report redness in the shape of a wedge. Your breast might also be painful to the touch.
- Nipple discharge – Bloody and non-bloody discharge may be a sign of mastitis.
- Inverted nipples – Swelling may cause your nipples to appear to go in and rather than pointing out.
- Breast lumps – Lumps and hard sections on your breast are definite signs that you should see a doctor.
- A burning sensation – Burning in the breasts, especially combined with redness, is a sign of mastitis.
- A fever – A fever that is registering at 101 degrees Fahrenheit or greater may be an indicator.
Is Breastfeeding Possible During Treatment?
Breastfeeding can help mastitis because nursing helps to keep milk from lingering in the ducts. The infection will not pass to your baby. While the antibiotics are safe for the baby, if you feel unsure, you can ask your doctor if the antibiotics prescribed to you for your mastitis are safe for breastfeeding. If you don’t wish to, you don’t need to breastfeed to help mastitis. The antibiotics will do the work for you. You can also pump during treatment to keep your milk production up.
Mastitis is common, as roughly one in 10 women will experience it. Luckily, by looking out for the symptoms, you can stay ahead of mastitis.