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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:50 pm
Mastitis (mass-TIE-tis) is an inflammation of the female breast. It may be mild or severe, chronic or acute, and is usually the result of an infection or a hormonal change. Women who are breast feeding are usually the most susceptible to this form of infection. Symptoms of mastitis include a red, tender breast and a fever. This infection usually responds well to antibiotics, and women can usually continue to breast feed. To help prevent mastitis, lactating mothers should do their best to keep their nipples from becoming cracked. Nipples should be washed and dried thoroughly after each feeding, and the baby shouldn't be allowed to 'chew.' Make sure the baby is well-attached to the nipple and surrounding tissue. Another common type of mastitis is cystic mastitis, or fibrocystic (fie-bro-SISS-tick) breast condition. Symptoms include sore, lumpy breasts, which increase in tenderness right before the menstrual period. The lumps produced by fibrocystic breast disease are not serious, but they may be hard to distinguish from tumors during a self-examination of the breasts. Because of this, it's important to have routine checkups by a physician who's knowledgeable about women's health care concerns. For more information about mastitis, contact a health care professional in your area.

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