Diagnosing and Treating Mastitis Online
Mastitis simply means inflammation of the breast and usually refers to a breast infection. While mastitis can happen to woman at any time, it is most common during the first 6 months of breastfeeding. Along with the symptoms above, mastitis can also cause:
- Fever and/or flu-like symptoms, such as feeling run down or very achy
- Yellowish discharge from the nipple that looks like colostrum
- Breasts that feel warm or hot to the touch and appear pink or red
A breast infection usually happens in only one breast. It is not always easy to tell the difference between a breast infection and a plugged duct, because both have similar symptoms and can get better within 24 to 48 hours.
Mastitis will often occur when bacteria enters the breast through the nipple. This can happen when a nursing mother has a cracked or sore nipple. Mastitis can also occur if one goes for long stretches between nursing or fails to completely empty the breast. It’s important to make sure your baby is latching properly when nursing because proper latching will help to empty the breast and to prevent cracked nipples.
What you can do:
- Breastfeed on the infected side every two hours or more often. This will keep the milk moving freely and your breast from becoming too full.
- Massage the area, starting behind the sore spot. Move your fingers in a circular motion and massage toward the nipple.
- Apply heat to the sore area with a warm, wet cloth.
- Rely on others to help you get extra sleep or relax with your feet up to help speed healing. Often a breast infection is a sign that you are doing too much and becoming overly tired.
- Wear a well-fitting, supportive bra that is not too tight, since a tight bra can constrict milk ducts.
Seek help from a medical professional if you do not feel better within 24 hours of trying these tips, if you have a fever, or if your symptoms get worse. A prescription may be needed.
During a video consult on Amwell your medical provider will ask you a series of targeted questions to determine if your symptoms point to mastitis. Then your provider will proceed to determine the best treatment plan for you. Your provider may recommend in-person examination if needed. Your treatment plan is based on the duration and severity of your symptoms and your medical history.
Once a diagnosis has been made, your medical provider will go over the risks and benefits of the various treatment plans. Treatment for mastitis is different depending on the severity.