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What are the Most Common Mastitis Symptoms?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 30 August 2016
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Most common mastitis symptoms occur in the first few weeks or months of breastfeeding and include soreness, fever, swelling and redness of the breast. Mastitis means that one of the milk ducts has become clogged and bacteria have begun to accumulate in the breast. Though painful, this condition is usually easily resolved with some treatment and it doesn’t mean women must stop breastfeeding; actually continuing to nurse can help. Even if a woman is not choosing to breastfeed, a little treatment can help the condition resolve fairly quickly.

Anyone who has just had a baby or who is nursing should be aware of common mastitis symptoms. These can arise quickly and become a health issue with little warning. One of the things women may feel that could indicate mastitis is pain when milk lets down or accumulates. During the first few weeks of breastfeeding this sensation can be slightly uncomfortable and unusual, and it may be hard to differentiate these new feelings from mastitis pain during let down. Other symptoms can be used as a guide to determine if mastitis is present.

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Often women notice that after nursing a baby the breast feels empty, but a breast that is infected may never feel empty. Even if a baby nurses vigorously, the breast may still feel full. Milk may be still be draining from the breast during nursing, but a clogged duct can mean the milk doesn't drain as easily and the breast might feel swollen at all times.

Another of the common mastitis symptoms is that the breast can be red or pink in color, which is a classic indication, though not all women get this symptom. Upon feeling the breast, women might detect a discernable lump, too. Touching the lump or palpating the breast is frequently uncomfortable.

While some mastitis symptoms are directly related to the breast, others seem unrelated. It’s quite common for women to develop a low-grade fever and to feel very tired or worn down. Sometimes mood changes occur, and not for the better, and women may feel cranky or easily irritated. Joint or muscle achiness can be associated with this infection too.

Should mastitis symptoms be present this is indication to call a physician. The most common treatment for this condition is to give antibiotics. Many doctors also suggest it’s equally important for women to use this infection as an indication to slow down a little bit. Having a couple of days of bed rest and drinking plenty of fluids is of great value. For women who are breastfeeding, continuation of breastfeeding is highly advised to help encourage the duct to unclog. Many doctors advise women to get in bed with the baby for a few days, if possible, and simply give their bodies an opportunity to heal.

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