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Mastitis - What are the symptoms of mastitis?

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Mastitis usually starts quite suddenly and can be very painful. It usually affects just one breast.

You might get the following symptoms:[3][10]

  • Pain or tenderness in a part of your breast

  • One or more hard lumps in your breast. These lumps are often wedge-shaped

  • A hot or warm area on your breast

  • Redness on a part of your breast

  • If you have a bacterial infection, you may get a high temperature or flu-like symptoms, such as shivers, hot sweats, and aches

  • If you have a fungal infection, you might get nipple pain, burning, itching, and shooting pains moving outwards from your nipple.

If you are breastfeeding and get any of the symptoms above you should see your midwife, health visitor, or doctor.[10]

If you’re not breastfeeding and you get a painful swelling in your breast you should also see your doctor. This is important because there is a type of breast cancer that causes similar symptoms to mastitis. Your doctor will carry out tests to check what has caused your symptoms. Your doctor or a nurse will usually decide whether you have mastitis by examining your breast and asking about your symptoms.

Symptoms of mastitis usually last about five days, but they can last up to three weeks.[3]

Engorgement

It’s important to know the difference between mastitis and engorgement. Engorgement involves the overfilling of the breasts with milk. When your breasts are engorged they feel very full and might feel hard. Both breasts are affected in the same way. And the whole breast feels full, not just a section of the breast, which is what happens with mastitis.

Your breasts might become engorged when your milk comes in, usually two or three days after you give birth. But it can also happen if there’s a long gap between feeds. This is nothing to worry about and will soon ease when you feed your baby.

Glossary

bacterial infection

You get a bacterial infection when bacteria invade a part of your body. There are many different types of bacteria, some of which are harmful and cause disease.

fungus

A fungus is an organism that is sometimes considered to be a type of plant. A fungus lives by feeding on other organisms. The mushrooms we eat in salads are fungi, but so are candida and cryptococcus, which can cause infections in people's bodies.

For more terms related to Mastitis

Citations

For references related to Mastitis click here.
Last Updated: May 21, 2013
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.
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