Mastitis: A Breast Infection That Women Should Know About

2 min read

mastitis
Khadija Rahman
A spirited writer who looks at the world with an inquisitive mind. Passionate about many things, she is an active campaigner for women’s rights and wants to change the world, one article at a time.

As women, our body goes through immense changes from puberty to pregnancy, and then, through menopause. Mastitis is a type of breast infection that mainly occurs during the breastfeeding period. The source of the infection or the bacteria can be through the mouth of the baby or a crack in the nipple. 

Breast infection usually occurs between one to three months after delivery. But not many people know that it could also bother women after menopause or sometime after delivering a baby.

Mastitis is rare in healthy women, but it is essential that you are informed about it so you can recognize the symptoms and get the help needed.

Mastitis Symptoms

Knowing the symptoms help us be aware. It also helps us seek help in the initial stages rather than waiting around, not knowing what to do. Some of the symptoms have been mentioned below.  

  • An area of the breast becomes swollen and red.
  • The affected area is warmer to touch than surrounding areas.
  • The area is also sensitive to touch and may or may not hurt.
  • The person may have flu-like symptoms. 
  • The person may experience a burning sensation while breastfeeding

The flu-like symptoms may be accompanied by fatigue, chills, anxiety, stress, shivering, body pain, etc. 

How to prevent mastitis?

So, how do you treat mastitis? Most people try to self-medicate by trying home remedies. One of the first things that most women do is ensure that the affected breast is properly drained during feeding sessions. Otherwise, the symptoms can worsen, and the breast may become too painful. 

mastitis

If you feel that you may be suffering from mastitis, then visit a doctor. Correct medicines will help to eradicate the infection. The doctor can also recommend techniques in case your duct is blocked. If there are serious complications, the person may be hospitalized. 

Also, consult with the doctor whether it would be safe to breastfeed the child if you are on some medications. 

Mastitis Causes

Mastitis is usually caused by a plugged or a blocked duct. The blockage can cause milk stasis, which means that the produced milk does not come out completely and remains in the breast. This happens if the baby is not latched on properly, has difficulty in sucking the milk, or is breast-fed infrequently. 

Sometimes, the ducts get blocked due to external pressure like tight clothes. Anything that blocks the milk can result in stasis. A common example is covering the same spot every time to get the breast out of the baby’s nose. 

Although bacteria thrive in human milk, a more likely cause of mastitis is infection. 

Women who aren’t breastfeeding

If mastitis is caused by blocked milk ducts, then how does it affect women who aren’t breastfeeding? Although this is not common, women who aren’t lactating can get periductal mastitis. They can be in their twenties or thirties. Most of these women are smokers. Experts believe that smoking can damage the milk ducts and make them more susceptible to infection. 

Quitting Smoking and Women’s Health

A vital factor to know is that getting your nipple pierced by an unprofessional can increase the risk of mastitis. So, if nipple piercing is something that you must have, go to a place that does it the right way. 

Home remedies to treat mastitis

Most of the women who get diagnosed with mastitis prefer home remedies. They are usually good enough to take care of the problem. The best part is that you can continue to breastfeed the child without worrying about any side-effects of the medicine. Here are some of the things you can try at home to feel better.

  • Place a clean cloth soaked in warm water on the breast to relieve discomfort.
  • Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. 
  • Feed the baby with the affected breast to make sure it gets empty. 
  • Make sure that the baby is latching on properly. 
  • Take enough rest. 
  • Wear loose clothes.
  • Change the positions while breastfeeding often.

You can also try different feeding positions. It will help you find a position that helps drain the breast the most. If there is any leftover milk after feeding, gently express it. 

Some additional factors

Mastitis is quite rare. it only affects about 1% to 3% of people. Not emptying the breast often worsens the symptoms. The chronic type of mastitis only affects women that are not breastfeeding or menopausal.

Often dead cells and debris clog the ducts, making it more susceptible to infection. Those who are not keen on taking medicine can try home remedies.  However, it is always better to seek professional help.