Mastitis is a common complication of lactation that at it’s most basic definition is inflammation or swelling in the breast. This inflammation often starts with an unresolved plugged duct where milk has either not be moved soon enough (like from baby sleeping longer at night or not pumping enough at work) or from the wrong size pump flange that does not allow milk to empty efficiency. Mastitis may happen with increased maternal stress or a change in the family routine. This may be when guests are visiting, during the holidays, or when returning to work. It is not always easy to tell the difference between a breast infection and a plugged duct. They have similar symptoms, and both can get better within a day or two.
Regardless of why it started, The diagnosis of mastitis is generally made by your symptoms. It is characterized by one sided breast tenderness and redness (often with a noticeable lump in a certain area), accompanied by a fever of 101°F (38.5°C) or greater. You may feel fatigued and symptoms of the flu like, chills, nausea or vomiting, body aches, and headache. The breast will also often have a wedge shape, redness in an area accompanied by breast fullness and tenderness in the same spot.
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