Breast inflammation (mastitis)

Breast inflammation (mastitis) is often caused by bacteria during breastfeeding.

Overview

Breast inflammation (mastitis) is often caused by bacteria during breastfeeding. The breast is painful, red and warm. Cooling after breastfeeding can provide relief, otherwise antibiotics can be prescribed.

Symptoms

  • Very painful breast
  • Overheating and redness
  • Fever, flu-like symptoms
  • Changed milk secretion

Causes and treatment

Causes

Breast inflammation is caused by milk that is trapped in the breast (galactostasis) or by bacteria. This most commonly affects women who are breastfeeding, but can also occur in non-breastfeeding women.

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

A careful examination is done to find out whether there is a bacterial infection.

Possible tests
  • Palpation (i.e. examination by touch)
  • Blood test (search for signs of infection)
  • Analysis of milk secretion (bacteria)
  • Ultrasound (sonography)
Possible therapies
  • Antibiotics (for bacterial infections)
  • Small operation (if pus has collected under the skin)

What can I do myself?

  • A midwife or breastfeeding counsellor can explain the right position to breastfeed, which can often provide symptom relief
  • Try to continue breastfeeding (doesn’t harm the baby)
  • Warm the breast before breastfeeding, cool it afterwards (e.g. with quark)
  • Gentle treatment
  • Painkillers, if needed (in consultation with the doctor!)

When to see a doctor?

  • If the inflammation doesn't improve within 1 to 2 days or the symptoms worsen

Synonyms

breast inflammation, mastitis, non-puerperal mastitis, puerperal mastitis, galactostasis

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CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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