What is mastitis?

By | 3 May 2021

What is mastitis?

Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast tissue. It is especially seen in women who are breastfeeding. It can cause severe pain and breast swelling. It is mostly seen in one breast.

Mastitis; is the presence of inflammation in the breast that causes redness, swelling, and pain. This inflammation may be accompanied by infection. Although it is most common in women who are breastfeeding, it can also be seen in women and men who are not breastfeeding.

What are the symptoms of mastitis?

Mastitis symptoms can come on suddenly. These symptoms are:

  • Swelling, tenderness in the breast
  • Feeling of warmth when touching the breast
  • Breast tissue thickening, itching
  • Pain or burning sensation constantly or during breastfeeding
  • Rash on the skin of the breast
  • Wound in the nipple
  • To be exhausted
  • It can be counted as fire.

What causes mastitis?

Breast; It consists of the mammary glands responsible for milk production and the ducts that allow milk to be carried to the udder.

Mastitis basically happens for two reasons.

The first is the obstruction of the milk ducts. After breastfeeding, if the milk in the breast is not completely emptied, it starts to block the milk ducts where it is located. This wearing causes inflammation and infection.

The second is through a crack in the nipple; It is the entry of bacteria normally found on the skin or in the baby’s mouth into the breast tissue. The milk remaining in the breast after breastfeeding creates a suitable area for bacteria to grow.

Two main reasons are the common causes of mastitis in breastfeeding women.

Causes of mastitis in women or men who are not breastfeeding can be listed as follows:

  • Smoking: The toxins found in tobacco can damage breast tissue.
  • Conditions such as piercing or eczema that can damage the nipple can make it easier for bacteria to enter the body through the nipple.
  • Mastitis can occur in people with breast implants.
  • Having diseases such as diabetes that weaken the immune system can predispose to mastitis.
  • Shaving or plucking the hair near the nipple can also cause inflammation and infection.

What are the risk factors for mastitis?

  • Previous mastitis story
  • Wound or crack in the nipple
  • Wearing tight bras to restrict milk flow, wearing seat belts on the breast, carrying heavy items
  • Improper breast care
  • Being under constant stress
  • Not enough feeding
  • Smoking is a risk factor for the development of mastitis.

What are the complications of mastitis?

When mastitis treatment is disrupted or appropriate treatment is not applied, pus accumulates in the breast. An abscess occurs in the breast. The abscess formed usually needs to be surgically drained.

How is mastitis diagnosed?

The patient’s history is of great importance in diagnosis. The doctor, to the patient; Asks various questions such as what the complaint is when the complaint has been occurring, and the factors that increase and decrease the complaint. Changes in the breast are detected with a physical examination. In lactating women, the bacteria that cause mastitis are tried to be determined by culturing from breast milk.

Since inflammatory breast cancer, which is a rare type of breast cancer, causes swelling and redness in the breast, the doctor may want to exclude the diagnosis of cancer by ultrasound and mammography. A biopsy may be requested to resolve the suspicion of cancer in patients whose symptoms do not improve despite completing mastitis treatment.

How does mastitis pass?

Antibiotic treatment is given to patients with infection. It is important to use the antibiotic without delay until the prescribed day is completed in order not to catch mastitis again.

Pain relievers can be used to reduce pain in the treatment of mastitis. Paracetamol and ibuprofen group painkillers are among the options that can be used in treatment.

Patients with mastitis should continue to breastfeed. Weaning of the baby can make the symptoms in the mother worse. Regular milk flow will help clear up the infection.

It should not be forgotten that breast milk is very beneficial for the baby. Since breastfed babies have a stronger immune system against viruses and bacteria, the likelihood of infection is lower than formula-fed babies. These babies gain a healthier weight. The risk of developing diabetes in the future is less. The ratio of nutrients needed by babies varies during the growth process. Breast milk meets this change naturally. As the baby’s needs change, breast milk changes its content to meet this. In babies fed with ready-made formula, this change should be made by the person who prepared the formula.

Breastfeeding women; overcomes the postpartum recovery process faster, gives birth weight easier. The risk of postpartum depression is reduced in women who are breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is known to be protective against breast and ovarian cancer.

There are many positive aspects of breastfeeding both for the baby and the mother. Therefore, the baby should be fed exclusively breast milk for at least 6 months.

Some changes to be made in breastfeeding techniques show positive effects both in the treatment of mastitis and in preventing the recurrence of mastitis:

  • Before breastfeeding, the breast should be prevented from overfilling with milk.
  • By keeping the period between breastfeeding short, the accumulation of milk can be prevented.
  • It can be difficult for the baby to find the nipple, as mastitis will cause swelling in the breast, making sure that the baby takes the nipple into his mouth properly during breastfeeding. In such cases, it may be beneficial to squeeze the nipple before breastfeeding and to let a small amount of milk come out.
  • Massaging from above the breast towards the nipple can have a positive effect in preventing the development of mastitis as it will facilitate the flow of milk during breastfeeding.
  • Make sure that the breast is completely emptied after breastfeeding. Mothers who have trouble emptying their milk completely can apply mild heat to the breast before breastfeeding to facilitate the flow of milk.
  • When breastfeeding, it is better to first breastfeed with mastitis. Since the baby will be hungry, he will suck the breast more strongly. It will be easier to drain the milk.
  • It is also important to breastfeed the baby in different ways rather than in the same position all the time.

Women with mastitis; should rest at home, apply cold to the breast between breastfeeding and wear a supportive bra.

What should be done to prevent mastitis?

One of the most important things that can be done to prevent mastitis development is to seek professional help with breastfeeding techniques. Proper breastfeeding techniques are used to ensure the proper discharge of milk. Since milk does not accumulate in the udder, it does not block the milk ducts and does not cause inflammation.

Methods such as breastfeeding the baby frequently and in different positions and checking that the milk comes out properly from the nipple are simple but effective methods that can prevent mastitis.

Early treatment of cracks in the nipple reduces the risk of bacterial infection.

Nursing mothers should prefer comfortable and comfortable bras and avoid tight clothes.

Mothers who cannot be with their baby continuously should express their milk with the help of a milking machine and prevent it from accumulating in the breast.

It will be beneficial to quit smoking for people who smoke. Even the mother being affected as a passive smoker can be harmful. Therefore, it is recommended that people who are in the same environment as the mother limit smoking and even quit smoking completely.

The baby should not be weaned suddenly. The process should spread over a few weeks. In this way, milk accumulation is minimized and the risk of developing mastitis is reduced.

Increasing the amount of fluid consumed daily may also be protective against mastitis. It is recommended that the liquids consumed should not contain high levels of sugar and be rich in minerals.

The strong immune system of the mother is one of the important conditions that prevent the formation of mastitis. It is good for breastfeeding women to rearrange their diets to strengthen their immune systems. A diet that includes all food groups should be established. Daily calorie requirement has increased in breastfeeding mothers. Therefore, the portions should be sufficient. Your diet; In addition to being rich in protein, fat, and carbohydrates, it should also be sufficient in terms of vitamins and minerals. Alcohol, caffeine, and cow’s milk should be included in the diet as little as possible.


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