What Does Dilated Breast Duct Mean?

What Does Dilated Breast Duct Mean?

Dilated breast duct is another term used for mammary duct ectasia. In dilated breast duct condition, the breast ducts or the milk ducts that are present below the nipple and areola area get dilated or widened. They also get shortened, the duct walls get thickened and the ducts get filled with fluid. This can cause obstruction or blockage in the milk ducts. Dilated breast duct does not usually cause any symptoms. There might be some discharge in some cases, inflammation and breast soreness may also be seen in some cases.

Causes Of Dilated Breast Ducts

Experts do not know cause of dilated breast duct yet. Breasts are composed of connective tissue. It involves milk ducts too, that are tiny, small tubes that carry milk to the nipples. In the event that milk duct below the nipple becomes dilated and plugged due to reasons like a fluid substance, dead skin cells etc. it results in dilated milk ducts.

There is an inflammation in the duct walls.

Some experts believe that the dilated breast duct may be caused due to some of the following factors-

Breasts undergo some changes over the period of aging process:

  • The breasts undergo involution which is a part of natural aging process
  • Milk ducts may get plugged and obstructed, causing the duct walls to get inflamed, during this phase, though the changes are quite normal otherwise

Smoking:

Those who are regular smokers, they have an increased risk of dilated milk ducts which may lead to infection, according to some studies

Inverted nipple:

Milk ducts can get blocked due to an inverted nipple. This may make the milk ducts dilated

An inverted nipple must be brought to an immediate attention of the physician, as it might be an indication of any other serious disorder

Complications Of A Dilated Breast Duct

Sometimes dilated milk ducts may present with some complications. The complications are usually minor. They do not cause much pain and are generally not very serious, but they are very bothersome. Such complications may include the following conditions-

  • There may be a discharge from the breasts
  • This is the most annoying and bothersome symptom of them all
  • The clothes can get wet and stained and make you embarrassed especially in a public place, due to the discharge from the nipples there might be a discomfort in the breast
  • The affected breast can be red, tender and swollen in the area of nipples
  • There may be an infection due to the blockage
  • Periductal mastitis is a bacterial infection that can be seen beginning in the blocked and plugged milk duct
  • There may be pain near the region of the nipple and areola
  • You may feel unfit, fatigued and very tired
  • Body temperature may be increased
  • There may be a collection of pus in the breast. The infection can get converted to an abscess if it is overlooked and not taken care of emergently
  • The pus needs to be drained emergently and infection should be cleared further by a procedure
  • Breast cancer maybe an issue to worry
  • When there are some changes in a breast, one thought that immediately comes to the mind is of breast cancer
  • A development of a lump can make you even more worried, as any lumps in the breasts are fearfully associated with breast cancer
  • In order to get relief from dilated breast ducts, it is necessary to get medical help at the earliest

However, getting dilated milk ducts does not mean that you have increased chances of getting breast cancer in future

How Do You Treat Dilated Breast Ducts?

Dilated breast ducts generally do not require any treatment and it gets better on its own. However, if it does not heal itself and becomes more troublesome or painful, or it turns into an infection, there may be a need for an emergent medical intervention to get some relief.

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