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General Practice 2023

Mastitis: what é, symptoms, treatment and how to avoid

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Mastitis: what é, symptoms, treatment and how to avoid
Mastitis: what é, symptoms, treatment and how to avoid

Mastitis is the acute inflammation of the breast tissue that causes symptoms such as pain, swelling or redness, which may or may not be accompanied by an infection and consequently cause fever and chills.

Mastitis is more common in women who are breastfeeding, especially in the first three months, due to obstruction of the channels through which the milk passes or the entry of bacteria through the baby's mouth. However, it can also occur in men or at any other stage of a woman's life due to the entry of bacteria into the breast in case of nipple injuries, for example.

In most cases, mastitis affects only one breast, and symptoms usually develop in less than two days. Mastitis is curable and should be treated as soon as possible to prevent a more serious infection.

Mastitis symptoms

Mastitis usually produces symptoms such as:

  • Breast swollen, hard, hot and red;
  • Intense breast pain;
  • Fever above 38ÂșC;
  • Chills;
  • General malaise;
  • Nausea and vomiting.

Untreated mastitis can develop into a breast abscess, which usually needs to be surgically drained, in addition to increasing the risk of a generalized infection. So, if mastitis is suspected, it is very important to go quickly to the hospital or he alth center, to confirm the diagnosis and start the most appropriate treatment.

How to confirm the diagnosis

The diagnosis of mastitis can be confirmed by the doctor by evaluating the person's symptoms and history. However, if there is a suspicion of infection, the doctor may also ask for an analysis of breast milk or any secretion released by the breast, to check for the presence of bacteria.

Main causes

There are several risk factors that can be at the origin of mastitis. It is more likely to happen in women who are breastfeeding, being more frequent in the first weeks after birth, especially if breastfeeding is always done in the same position. In addition, if the mother is too tired or stressed, eats poorly, wears clothes that are too tight, or carries heavy bags, she may also get mastitis more easily.

In men or women who are not breastfeeding, the appearance of cuts or sores on the nipple may be the origin of mastitis, but its development may only occur due to the natural aging of the breast, especially during menopause.

How the treatment is done

Treatment for mastitis should be started as soon as the first signs and symptoms of inflammation appear. According to the symptoms and cause of mastitis, the doctor may indicate:

1. Home treatment

Treatment carried out at home is essential to relieve symptoms, reduce inflammation and accelerate recovery, being recommended:

  • Drink about 2 liters of liquids a day such as water, teas or coconut water;
  • Applying hot compresses to the breast or taking a hot bath;
  • Massage with gentle circular on the affected part.

In cases where mastitis is related to the breastfeeding process, the doctor may also indicate:

  • Use warm compresses on the breasts before expressing milk;
  • Breastfeed several times a day to prevent milk from accumulating in the affected breast;
  • Wear a tight-fitting nursing bra to prevent the body from producing too much milk;
  • Massage the breasts before breastfeeding, to make it easier for milk to come out;
  • Observe if the baby is completely emptying the breast after breastfeeding;
  • Express the milk manually or with a pump if the baby has not completely emptied the breast.

Although mastitis causes pain and discomfort, it is not advisable to stop breastfeeding, as the act of breastfeeding helps to treat mastitis and brings many benefits to the baby, such as reducing allergies and colic. In addition, by continuing to breastfeed, it is possible to prevent the retention of more milk and the proliferation of bacteria. However, if the woman still does not want to breastfeed, she must express the milk to continue emptying the breast, which brings great relief of symptoms.

2. Use of medication

The doctor may indicate the use of analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Paracetamol or Ibuprofen, to relieve pain and reduce inflammation in the breast.In addition, when the presence of signs indicative of infection with Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis bacteria is verified, the physician may recommend the use of antibiotics for 10 to 14 days according to the physician's recommendation.

3. Surgery

Surgery is indicated in cases where the presence of breast abscesses due to mastitis is verified, and a surgical procedure is recommended to perform the abscess drainage. After the procedure, the doctor may recommend the use of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories to relieve the pain and discomfort that may arise after the procedure and prevent the development of infection.

How to prevent mastitis

In cases of women who are breastfeeding, the probability of developing mastitis can be reduced as follows:

  1. Completely emptying the breast after breastfeeding;
  2. Let the baby empty the first breast before giving the other, alternating breasts during the next feeding;
  3. Vary the position for breastfeeding so that milk is withdrawn from all breast segments;
  4. Breastfeed more often, especially if the breast is full of milk;
  5. Place the baby in the proper position, positioning it in front of the breast, with the mouth at the nipple level, preventing the mother from forcing the posture, since can cause nipple damage. See the correct position to breastfeed.
  6. Avoid wearing tight clothes, opting for clothes that support the breast without creating excessive pressure.

In other cases, it is important to properly treat wounds close to the nipple to prevent the entry of bacteria that cause mastitis. A good example is properly treating wounds caused by nipple piercings.

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