There are a lot of health problems that only affect women. Some of the most common conditions are those that affect the mammary glands of females. The mammary glands or the breasts are an important part of a woman’s body. These serve as a passage for milk of lactating women, as well as a place for the production of certain female hormones. However, the breasts are also at high risk for certain abnormalities. One of these is the condition known as mastitis. But what is mastitis and what are the mastitis symptoms?
Learning More about Mastitis
Mastitis is a type of infection and inflammation of the breast that usually affects the fatty tissues. This causes pain, swelling and redness of the affected area. Pain is evident in this situation since the swelling is able to push down or compress the milk ducts. This type of infection is commonly caused by a bacterium known as the Staphylococcus aureus. This type of bacterium is normally found on our skin. However, as it enters the body through the cracks of the nipple, it can cause irritation and infection of the particular area. Although mastitis can occur to any woman, this type of condition affects mostly the lactating or breastfeeding mothers since the nipple are prone to drying and irritation during nursing. Because of this, the bacteria have greater chance of invading the breast tissues, most especially the milk glands and the milk ducts.
However, mastitis can also be common to non breastfeeding women. This is true among women who are already experiencing menopause. This can in fact cause or indicate another type of disease such as breast cancer. Aside from this, a clogged milk duct can also mimic or imitate the symptoms of mastitis. The clogging of the milk ducts can be a result from the woman’s adjustment to breastfeeding. This can lead to tenderness, redness and the production of lumps without the presence of any infection. However, swelling or inflammation caused by clogged milk ducts can be relieved by doing only simple massages unlike mastitis where advance treatment and management is already needed. However, of the symptoms still persist and fever is already present, then this could already be infected and can be already considered a type of mastitis.
Fortunately, mastitis is never considered a medical emergency since this condition can be easily treated with the right and immediate interventions. Nevertheless, once mastitis is left untreated; it can still lead to breast abscess, which is a more serious type of complication in the mammary glands. This is characterized by the presence of pus in a hollow area of the breast. This is usually required with draining of the abscess by the doctor. This is the reason why treating mastitis as soon as possible is recommended in order not to let it develop into an abscess.
So in case tenderness, redness and other flu like symptoms are being experienced, whether breastfeeding or not, it is necessary to seek prompt medical attention in order to provide the necessary treatment for the condition. It is also wise to become aware of the different symptoms that could be experienced from such type of condition. Below are some of the most common characteristics of mastitis.
The symptoms of mastitis can be felt regardless whether the woman is lactating or breastfeeding. Some of the most common symptoms include breast pain, breast lump, breast redness and or heat, breast swelling especially on the affected side or portion of the breast, fever and flu like symptoms, itching, production of nipple discharges, nipple tenderness and the tenderness or swelling of the lymph nodes near the armpit of the affected side
Symptoms can also become complicated once the condition starts to worsen. As we already know, breast abscess is the known complication of mastitis. This can indicate a more serious complication that needs to be evaluated promptly. Once breast abscess is left untreated or unmanaged, it can develop into gangrene and can become a permanent damage. Once the infection spread into the blood stream, it can lead to sepsis, which is considered a life threatening bacterial infection of the blood. This can likewise cause organ failure and can eventually lead to death. These are the reasons why mastitis or the simple clogging of milk ducts should never be taken lightly or for granted. Sepsis infection can show symptoms such as confusion or the loss of consciousness even for a brief period, problems or difficulty in breathing or rapid breathing, fainting or changes in the level of sensorium or consciousness (lethargic) and the exhibition of high grade fever that is more than 101 degrees Fahrenheit. These are just some of the symptoms that we can expect from mastitis as well as from its complicated condition.