Mastitis

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Latest Edit: Hector 2014-04-03 (EDT)

Mastitis refers to infection and resulting inflammation of the breast tissue. The infection is typically caused by the bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus which is commonly found on normal skin. These bacteria can cause infection when they enter the breast through breaks in the skin. This condition results in pain, breast tissue swelling, and often fever. Mastitis commonly occurs in women who are breast feeding, and almost all cases occur during the first month of feeding.[1]

Mastitis
Fibrocystic breast.jpg

Mastitis
Causes Environmental Toxins, Hormone based medications, Stress
See Also Women's Health, Oncology
Books Books on Women's Health, Books on Oncology
Articles Articles on Women's Health, Articles on Oncology (Cancer)


Naturopathic Assessment

Causal Factors

In order to stimulate the innate ability of the body to heal the causes of disease must be identified and addressed. With mastitis the main cause is infection yet the following factors can increase a person's susceptibility and risk of mastitis:[2]

Lifestyle

  • Poor maternal nutrition increases the risk of mastitis.[2]

Social

  • Stress, especially around breastfeeding, may increase the risk of mastitis.

Environmental

  • The primary cause of mastitis is the bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus.[1]

Genetics

  • Infant or mouth abnormalities (ex. cleft lip or palate) increases risk for mastitis.[2]
  • Genetic factors like HLA type play a role in development of mastitis.[2]

Medical Interventions

  • Piercings
  • Nipple piercing can increase the risk of mastitis.

Diagnostic Testing

  • Mastitis is typically diagnosed based on a person's symptoms and a breast examination.

Related Symptoms and Conditions

Mastitis is associated with or increases the risk of the following conditions:

  • Abscess formation
  • If this occurs, the abscess must be drained, and the woman should cease breast feeding until it has resolved.
  • Blocked milk ducts or a reduction in breast milk.
  • Approximately 25% of mothers cite mastitis as the reason for stopping breast feeding and it is a major cause of breast milk reduction.[2]
  • Compromised immune status.

Characteristics

Individuals with mastitis typically present with:[3]

  • local breast pain or tenderness which is typically one side only
  • breast swelling
  • a lump may be felt within the breast
  • nipple discharge, with or without pus
  • changes in nipple sensation
  • local lymph nodes may become affected

Other accompanying symptoms include:

  • fever
  • general malaise
  • itching typically around the area of pain
  • flu like symptoms

Naturopathic Treatment

The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies. Mastitis is typically an acute condition that can be managed effectively.

It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.

Home Care

Home Care strategies include:

  • Breast Care
  • While breastfeeding ensure the nipple area is moisturized appropriately to minimize the risk of irritation or cracks in the skin which increase the risk of mastitis.
  • Continue breastfeeding
  • Unless an abscess develops it is fine for the mother to continue breastfeeding. Since mother and baby are usually colonized with the same organisms when mastitis develops it is not likely that you would be transmitting an infection to the infant.[3] Br
  • Keep the nipple area clean.[4]

Lifestyle

Lifestyle recommendations include:

  • Increasing the amount of sleep that you are getting can speed recovery time and decrease the risk of infection.

Naturopathic Therapies

The prescribing of naturopathic therapies requires the guidance of a naturopathic doctor as it depends on a number of factors including the causal factors, a person's age, prescription medications, other conditions and symptoms and overall health. It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor prior to taking any natural therapies.

Naturopathic Therapies for mastitis include:

  • According to TCM, Mastitis can be caused by the following pathologies: liver qi stagnation and stomach heat, toxic heat, qi and blood deficiency, or liver qi stagnation.[7]
  • Apply moist heat to the affected breast for 15 to 20 minutes 3-4 times a day.

References

Reviewed by Iva Lloyd, BScH, RPE, ND [1]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Kumar R, Abbas A, DeLancey A, Malone E (2010) Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease. Eighth Edition. Saunders Elsevier.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Michie C, Lockie F, Lynn W (2003 Sep) The challenge of mastitis Arch Dis Child;Vol88(9):818-21 PMID: 12937109. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Michie" defined multiple times with different content
  3. 3.0 3.1 Spencer JP (2008 Sep 15) Management of mastitis in breastfeeding women Am Fam Physician;Vol78(6):727-31 PMID: 18819238.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Hoffman D (2003) Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Healing Arts Press
  5. Lu Henry (1986) Chinese System of Food Cures, prevention and remedies Sterling Publishing Co. New York.
  6. Gemmell D (1997) Everyday Homoeopathy; 2nd Edition. Beaconsfield Publishers Ltd
  7. Kuoch DJ (2011) Acupuncture Desk Reference Volume 2 2ND EDITION. Acumedwest Inc.