Mastitis

Mastitis is well-treated using naturopathic medicine.

Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue that usually affects women who are breastfeeding, most often within the first six weeks after birth.

Mastitis is caused by introduction of bacteria from the surface of your skin or baby’s mouth through a break in the skin of your nipple or your milk duct opening.

Untreated mastitis can result in the formation of an abscess (collection of pus) requiring surgical treatment.

Seek professional healthcare as soon as you recognize the signs and symptoms of mastitis.

Symptoms of Mastitis

Usually influenza-like symptoms will precede local breast symptoms by several hours. Possible symptoms of mastitis include:

  • Pain (often of a burning quality), continuously or during breastfeeding
  • Breast swelling
  • Breast tenderness
  • Warmth and redness (often in a wedge-shaped area) of breast tissue
  • Fever of 38.3° C (101° F) or higher
  • General malaise (feeling unwell, in general)
  • Symptoms may occur only in one breast

Treatment of Mastitis at Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine

At Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine, the goals of mastitis treatment are to reduce intensity and duration of pain and infection, and prevent recurrence.

Conventional treatment for mastitis may include a variety of medications, including antibiotics (e.g., penicillin), which are transmitted to your baby through breast milk.

For this reason, you may choose to try natural treatment to possibly avoid use of antibiotics, or together with antibiotics in order to decrease dosages of antibiotics required to manage your mastitis symptoms.

Naturopathic treatment of any chronic health concern must be recognized as a process that involves:

  • Identifying specific treatment goals
  • Development by your naturopathic doctor, of a thorough understanding of all factors affecting your health, including physical, psychological, emotional and lifestyle factors
  • Development of a comprehensive treatment plan
  • Implementation and maintenance of that plan through periodic monitoring and adjustment

At Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine, a typical approach to treating mastitis may be to:

  • Resolve breast infection by increasing immune system activity and eradicating bacteria using immune system stimulating and anti-bacterial botanical (herbal) medicines
  • “Move” stagnant breast milk using hydrotherapy
  • Protect, soothe and heal cracked nipples using botanical (herbal) creams and salves
  • Resolve infection using botanical (herbal) medicines
  • Prevent recurrence by identifying and addressing underlying factors in your lifestyle (e.g., using only one position to breastfeed, improperly fitted bra) or general health (e.g., cracked nipples, previous history of mastitis, low immune system function) that may be contributing to development of mastitis
  • Prevent recurrence by increasing immune system activity using botanical (herbal) medicines

Where appropriate, a number of therapeutic options are available, to be used alone, or more often in a complementary fashion, including:

Treatments provided by naturopathic doctors and registered massage therapists are covered by most extended healthcare plans.

References

Mastitis [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; [cited 2010 Jan 29]. Available from: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mastitis/DS00678 .

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