Mastitis is a painful infection of the breast tissue that most commonly affects women who are breast feeding. Swelling occurs where milk ducts, or alveoli, are clogged by dirt or bacteria, preventing milk flow and creating inflammation. Some women stop breast feeding because of the pain, but the infection actually does not affect the baby’s milk.
- Sore, red, cracked nipples
- Fever over 101.3°F (38.5°C), chills, flu-like symptoms
Who is at risk?
Breast feeding women, most commonly in the first two to three weeks post-partum, should be on the watch for mastitis. It can occur in menopausal women as well.
Breast feeding women should keep the breast tissue clean and dry, wear a comfortable bra, and feed in a position that aids milk flow. Fluids also assist with healthy breast feeding. A physician might want to start the patient on antibiotics, with a warm compress to ease the swelling. A physical exam will also help the physician rule out an abscess or other complications that need attention.
Breast infections outside of lactation also occur with the onset of menopause. Any unusual bump or tenderness in the breast should be pointed out to a physician.
Emergency Warning Signs: When should I see a doctor?
Flu like symptoms in addition to redness around the nipple are key signs that it’s time to contact a physician to rule out a more serious problem.
Treatment for mastitis is available now at OnPoint Urgent Care in Aurora, Highlands Ranch, or Lone Tree Colorado.
For more information on mastitis, see the following websites:
eMedicineHealth on Breast Lumps and Pain
Mayo Clinic Overview of Mastitis
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