Do I Have Infectious or Non-Infectious Mastitis?
If your breast tissue is red, swollen and painful it could be Mastitis. It most commonly occurs in breastfeeding women and is also known as puerperal mastitis or lactation mastitis. You can have the condition and not be breastfeeding but it is rarer and mastitis typically affects just one breast. If you are suffering from this condition you may be experiencing flu-like symptoms like a high temperature, chills and aches. There are two main types which are non-infectious mastitis and infectious mastitis. The non-infectious is caused by left over breast milk remaining within the breast tissue (this is milk stasis) and creates a blockage of the milk duct and difficulties breastfeeding your baby. A bacterium usually causes infectious mastitis. If you were to leave non-infectious mastitis you risk it developing into infectious mastitis and this can happen if bacteria infect the remaining milk in the breast tissue. If you are to develop mastitis it usually happens within the first three months after birth and approximately one in ten breastfeeding women are affected. If you have mastitis and it is putting you off breastfeeding further, bear in mind that continuing can actually help to remove clogged-up breast milk from your breast. Also it could help dissipate the symptoms of mastitis more speedily and also be a preventative measure in the condition becoming more serious. Milk from your breast affected by mastitis tastes saltier than normal but it is safe for your baby to drink and any bacteria in your milk will be innocuously absorbed by your baby’s digestive system and will not cause problems. You can successfully treat mastitis by resting, drinking lots of water and ensuring your feeding technique is correct. Make sure that your baby is suitably attached to your nipple and your breast is empty after the feed. To ensure that your breast is empty you can express any left-over milk after feeding and feed more often. You can express your milk by hand or by using a breast pump. Prompt medical treatment is required if you have infectious mastitis because if left untreated it can lead to more serious problems for example an abscess developing in your breast which means a painful pool of pus. Severe cases of infectious mastitis will need antibiotics to combat the infection and get the condition under control. A diagnosis can be carried out by your doctor who will give you a physical examination and ask you about your symptoms. Your doctor might ask you to demonstrate how you breastfeed. Do not be insulted by this as mastitis is often caused by an inadequate technique and breastfeeding usually takes most mothers time and practice to perfect. Most new mothers need advice and guidance to get it right. Your doctor may ask for a breast milk sample because either your mastitis is severe, repetitive or antibiotics have not made any improvement to your condition. Testing your breast milk will determine whether you do have an infection caused by bacteria and which bacterium it is. Your doctor can then decide the best treatment for you. By Lisa Pecos