The breasts are one of the most sensitive body parts in women. These can suffer from a large number of pathologies and alterations of different etiology. One of the most common is mastitis. Do you want to know what its symptoms and causes are? We will explain them to you below.
Before talking about the pathology itself, it is important to clarify the anatomical constitution of the breast. It consists, to a large extent, of the mammary gland.. In turn, it consists of lobules, which have ducts that flow into the nipple, through which milk will circulate during breastfeeding.
What is Mastitis?
Taking into account the anatomical conformation, we can affirm it mastitis is inflammation of one or more lobes of the mammary gland, which may or may not be accompanied by infection. His diagnosis it is very fast and is usually based on the symptoms presented.
A noninfectious mastitis can become one with a secondary infectious cause. Therefore, it is common to associate it with an infection. However, it’s important to note that this won’t be the case in all cases.
The change usually affects only one breast, although it can become bilateral in fewer presentations. The women most affected are those who are breastfeeding, with an incidence among them reaching 33%. Furthermore, the vast majority present it during the first 3 months of breastfeeding.
In general terms, women with mastitis often report severe pain in the affected breast (mastalgia) and some inflammatory signs such as redness, warmth to the touch and swelling.
However, symptoms might vary whether or not they are associated with an infection. In the case of noninfectious mastitis, severe stabbing pain and some mild local changes are usually present. The skin may also not be affected at all and therefore tends to be misdiagnosed.
On the other hand, the symptoms that occur in mastitis of infectious character they are much more obvious. In addition to severe pain and characteristic inflammatory signs, we have the following:
- Fever above 38.5°C with general malaise.
- Chills that make you tremble.
- Inflammation of the axillary nodes.
- Painful lesions on the nipple.
- Pain or burning sensation when breastfeeding.
Causes of mastitis
Inflammation of the lobules of the mammary gland has 2 main causes. One refers to blockages of the breast ducts and the other to the entry of bacteria from outside.
Blockage of the milk duct
Blockage of a milk or breast duct usually occurs due to poor breastfeeding technique. By not draining the breasts, the bacteria produce a kind of coating called biofilm which gradually clogs the duct.
This obstruction can lead to noninfectious mastitis if left untreated. Moreover, if you let it evolve over time, the bacteria could multiply and cause an infection.
But how can there be bacteria in milk? The answer is that the entire body contains a number of microorganisms known as microbiota. As part of these microorganisms, breast milk has various microorganisms capable of generating biofilm.
These bacteria will be in charge of generating, in the future, the intestinal microbiota of the newborn. Therefore, we can safely say that they do not pose any danger to the child.
Entry of bacteria from outside
The skin can suffer all kinds of injuries without us realizing it and the breast is not exempt. These injuries are very common when the baby’s teeth come out. Such wounds, no matter how small, can serve as gateway for various pathogenic bacteria that come from both the mother and the child.
THE etiological agents of pathology are very different. Staphylococci are the most common in this type of infection, accounting for about 75% of cases. They are followed by gender strep in 10-15% of diagnoses.
How to prevent pathology?
If you want to prevent mastitis, The main thing that every woman should do is have good breastfeeding technique.. For this, there are many breastfeeding tips that can be followed. However, nearly all of them will be designed to empty the breast completely to avoid a possible blockage:
- The first thing to do is find a comfortable position to breastfeed and do it regularly. The World Health Organization (WHO) even recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months.
- Another great tip is to use a different breast each time you breastfeed.
- Also, applying heat to the area before starting the process is very beneficial. This will dilate the ducts and the milk will come out faster.
- A small bulge could be indicative of a blockage, then it is advisable to do continuous massages to make them disappear.
What do I need to remember about mastitis?
Mastitis is a common disease, especially in breastfeeding women. When this occurs, breastfeeding should not be stopped unless directed by your doctor. Despite the pain it can cause, treatment is quick and its evolution is usually favorable.
In case of suspected infection, the professional will prescribe an antibiotic. If it is a woman who is breastfeeding, the suitable drug which does not cause side effects in the child.
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