Mastitis is inflammation of the breast tissues that could sometimes involve an infection. This inflammation often results in breast pain, redness, swelling and warmth and some patients may also experience chills and fever. Mastitis may affect women who are not nursing as well as men, but it’s most common in breastfeeding women (lactation mastitis).
When a woman suffers from lactation mastitis, she may feel run down and this could make it difficult for her to care for her baby. Some women suffering from lactation mastitis may be forced to wean their babies before time. However, the ideal thing to do is to continue to breastfeed your baby, even while taking antibiotics to treat mastitis. Of course, this would be for the good of your baby since breast milk is highly recommended for babies.
Mastitis is caused by milk being trapped in the breast. Also, a blocked milk duct could cause mastitis. This happens if a breast doesn’t completely empty at feedings, thereby causing your milk ducts to become clogged. The blockage could in turn cause milk to back up, thereby leading to a breast infection. Moreover, mastitis can be caused by bacteria entering your milk ducts from either your skin surface or your baby’s mouth. Such bacteria typically pass through the skin of your nipple or through a milk duct opening.
The signs and symptoms of mastitis could appear suddenly and the most common ones include;
• Tenderness of the breast
• Breast swelling
• The breast becomes too warm to touch
• Thickening of the tissue of the breast or breast lump
• Pain or a continuous burning sensation, especially while breastfeeding
• Skin redness which usually occurs in a wedge-shaped pattern
• A general feeling of illness
• High fever of about 101 F (38.3 C) or greater
Fortunately, mastitis is easily treatable. One of the treatment options include the use of antibiotics. A 7 to 10-day course of antibiotics is usually recommended for the treatment of mastitis that involves an infection. It should be noted that, you must take all your medications to ensure that the mastitis doesn’t recur. Aside from antibiotics, your doctor could also prescribe certain over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Women suffering from lactation mastitis might also be orientated to adjust their breastfeeding techniques. For instance, they might avoid the prolonged overfilling of their breasts with milk before breastfeeding. Massaging your nipple while breastfeeding or pumping from the affected area towards the nipple could also help to relieve some of the symptoms of mastitis. Moreover, it is also advisable to first of all breastfeed on the affected side whenever your baby is extremely hungry or sucking more strongly. Above all, try to always vary your breastfeeding positions.