What Is Hormonal Mastitis?
Hormonal mastitis is an inflammation of the breast tissue due to hormonal changes in the body that lead to clogged ducts with dead skin cells and debris. It is mostly seen in peri-menopausal women. These ducts that have been clogged lead to breast infection. In a healthy woman, mastitis is rarely seen. However, women who have an impaired immune system along with chronic illnesses, diabetes, AIDS might be more susceptible to hormonal mastitis.
Although hormonal mastitis is mainly related to lactating women or women who are breastfeeding it can also be seen in women who are not breastfeeding and also sometimes in men. It is important to take notice of any breast and nipple changes that might occur because there are chances of development of a breast abscess formation. Women who are heavy smokers may have sore breasts that can cause bacteria to enter the ducts leading to infections by Staphylococcus or Streptococcus species of bacteria.
Causes Of Hormonal Mastitis
The common causes of hormonal mastitis include the changes in breast tissue with age. As you age the glandular breast tissue changes to fatty tissue by a process of involution. These breast changes can sometimes lead to blocking of the milk duct and inflammation of the breast tissue. Cigarette smoking is also responsible for widening of milk ducts that will further lead to inflammation and infection of the mammary gland. Nipple inversion might also obstruct milk ducts causing inflammation and infection of the breasts.
The complications include nipple discharge, breast discomfort, infection and concern about breast cancer.
Signs And Symptoms Of Hormonal Mastitis
Hormonal mastitis mostly affects women in the age group of 45 to 55 years and due to hormonal changes in the body there are breast tissue changes. Hormonal mastitis can also occur in post menopausal women. The symptoms include a dirty white, greenish or black nipple discharge from one or both the nipples. There will be tenderness in the nipple or the surrounding area of the affected breast. The skin over the affected breast tissue is red. A breast lump can be seen and it is mostly a thickening of the clogged duct. There is inversion of the nipple i.e. it is turned inward.
In case of infection, there are signs of fever, soreness and redness of the breast tissue and overlying skin. Most of these signs and symptoms may improve on their own. But in case of persistence and recurrence it is advised to seek medical care.
Diagnosis And Treatment Of Hormonal Mastitis
The doctor will take a brief history about your symptoms followed by a physical examination for hormonal mastitis. Additional tests that need to be performed are a diagnostic ultrasound of the nipple and areola where the sound waves are used to take images of the breast tissue. Here the doctor can see the milk ducts and evaluate them. A diagnostic mammography is performed where a more detailed view of the specific target areas can be seen and a correct diagnosis for hormonal mastitis can be made.
Since the hormonal mastitis symptoms resolve on their own in some times it does not usually require any treatment. But in case the hormonal mastitis symptoms do not go away an antibiotic course of 10 to 24 days is prescribed. Pain relievers are given such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) for breast discomfort. In very rare cases where antibiotics don not work surgical removal of the affected milk duct is done.
Home remedies for hormonal mastitis include warm compresses to the nipple and surrounding tissue that may ease the soreness and pain in the breast tissue. Breast pads can be used for nipple discharge to prevent fluid from leaking into your clothes. These pads are available at local drugstores and can be easily used at home. A good support bra will help keep the pads in place to absorb the nipple discharge. Sleeping on the opposite side of the affected breast is also helpful in preventing swelling and discomfort in the breast. Lastly the cessation of smoking is beneficial so that effecting healing may take place and recurrent infections do not occur.