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Mastitis is an infection or inflammation of the breast tissue. It often affects women who are breastfeeding. Mastitis causes breast pain and redness. It can also cause flu-like symptoms such as body aches and fever. Mastitis may develop because of sore, cracked nipples, latch problems, plugged ducts, yeast infection, or inadequate drainage of milk. 

Diagnosing mastitis

These are the most common symptoms of mastitis:  

  • Hot, swollen breasts

  • A red, painful, or hot "wedge-shaped" swelling on a breast, or both breasts

  • A red, painful, or hot lump in your breast

  • Red streaks on your breasts

  • Body aches

  • Chills

  • Fever (oral temperature more than 100.4° F or 38° C)

If you have these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible because you may need treatment for mastitis.

Treating mastitis

Mastitis treatment involves draining the breast and often taking antibiotics. It is especially important to keep the affected breast "empty" through frequent breastfeeding or pumping sessions. If you think a latch problem may have contributed to your mastitis, consider seeing a certified lactation consultant. It is very important to rest and keep hydrated by drinking a lot of clear fluids. You can take ibuprofen or acetaminophen for the fever or discomfort. An antibiotic may be prescribed for 10 to 14 days. Be sure you take all of the medicine or mastitis may come back.  The antibiotics used for mastitis are generally safe to use while breastfeeding.

Online Medical Reviewer: Dozier, Tennille, RN, BSN, RDMS
Online Medical Reviewer: Rosen-Carole, Casy, MD, MPH
Date Last Reviewed: 9/6/2015
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