Mastitis can be non-infective or infective.


Non-infective mastitis usually occurs when a blocked duct prevents the flow of milk from one area of the breast. If this is not relieved or cleared, the pressure from the blockage forces the milk into the adjacent tissue, which activates the mother's immune system, causing the mother to complain of 'flu-like symptoms. Her breast becomes red and sore and she starts to sweat. The symptoms come on very quickly indeed and the patient can feel very ill.


Infective mastitis occurs when bacteria enter the breast. A cracked nipple is a frequent route for such infection. The organism that causes this is usually one called Staphylococcus aureus and can lead to a breast abscess if left untreated. With correct positioning of the baby, the mother should continue to breastfeed and antibiotic therapy is usually prescribed. If a breast abscess does form, surgical intervention is needed to drain the abscess and this can be very painful indeed.

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