Mastitis is an infection in the breast tissue sometimes requiring antibiotics and rarely surgery. It is usually associated with breast feeding. The symptoms are pain, redness and warmth of the breast. It can mimic inflammatory breast cancer and needs to be evaluated by a doctor. Warm compresses such as a heating pad or a Thermacare pad (purchased at a pharmacy) and continuing nursing or pumping can relieve the problem. Antibiotics are often prescribed. If a collection of infected milk forms then aspiration or incision are needed to remove this abscess. Mastitis can also happen without breast feeding. It is much more common in smokers. Aspiration and surgical incision are needed more frequently.
Breast pain is difficult to treat because there can be many causes. Hormonal changes around the monthly cycle can be severe. Caffeine and chocolate are also associated with breast pain. Fibrocystic change is firm, lumpy breast tissue that is often tender. Mammograms and sonograms are necessary often performed. If breast cysts are found, they can be drained. In the majority of cases, the treatments listed below will relieve the tenderness. If not, see a doctor.
- Stop caffeine and chocolate
- Take Vitamin E over the counter or
- Take Evening Primrose Oil over the counter
- Waiting over the next few menstrual cycles
Benign breast lumps include cysts, fibroadenoma and fibrocystic change. If cysts are tender, they can be aspirated in the office. A needle biopsy is done to confirm the benign nature of a solid mass. This will be done in the office with numbing medicine. A fibroadenoma can be removed or frozen in the office if it is not too large. If a fibroadenoma is not tender or growing, it can be left alone.
Nipple discharge can be very scary but is usually benign. The worrisome type is spontaneous, bloody discharge. This means the nipple was not squeezed to yield the fluid. Evaluation with mammogram, sonogram and, if bloody, surgical biopsy is likely necessary.