April 12, 2023
The causes and symptoms of mastitis are usually diverse.
Acute mastitis -or puerperal mastitis- is an inflammation of the breast tissue, which can be caused by an infection and usually affects mothers during the lactation period. On the other hand, also, for non-lactating women, there is chronic mastitis. In both cases, the symptoms and causes can be very varied. According to Dr. Mauricio León, head of the Mastology Unit at Clinica Ricardo Palma, the main symptoms of acute mastitis are: tenderness and/or pain in the breasts, inflammation and redness in the breasts, heat in the breasts to the touch , malaise and rising fever. On the other hand, chronic mastitis produces breast tumors, often accompanied by holes in the mother’s skin, better known as “fistulas.”
What are the causes and risk factors of mastitis?
Among the causes, Dr. León indicates that one of them is retained or infected milk in the breast. Likewise, there is also the obstruction of the mammary duct (if the breast is not emptied after each feeding) and bacterial infection in the breast. “It should be mentioned that the causes of chronic mastitis are unknown to date,” he adds.
On the other hand, there are certain facts that can make a person more prone to this infection. First of all, a person who has suffered previous mastitis or injuries to the nipples, such as cuts or cracks, may be more prone to suffering from this inflammation. Also, pressure on the breasts or previous severe trauma to the affected breast and tobacco use are considered risk factors.
Also, if mastitis is not treated properly, the infection can worsen and lead to a collection of pus, called an “abscess,” in the breast. Abscesses usually need to be drained by surgery.
It should be noted that, to prevent this condition during lactation, the following is recommended:
If mastitis is caused by an infection, treatment is through antibiotics, sometimes intravenously. The doctor may recommend taking pain relievers. However, if there is no improvement, the surgical procedure is always an option.
As previously mentioned, if you suffer from this inflammation, it is important that the mother does not stop breastfeeding, as this helps eliminate the infection, otherwise the symptoms may worsen.
Dr. Mauricio León
Head of the Mastology Unit of Clinica Ricardo Palma