If you’re a breastfeeding mom, chances are you’ve heard about mastitis or clogged duct. But are these two terms interchangeable? Or do they refer to two different conditions? Let’s find out what the difference between clogged milk ducts and mastitis is. A clogged milk duct is an inflammation or infection of one or more milk ducts in your breast that results in the blockage of milk. On the other hand, mastitis is an infection or inflammation of your breast tissue, which can result from a clogged milk duct. If left untreated, it may spread to your lymph nodes and become chronic. Corrective measures need to be taken immediately to avoid any further complications.
What causes mastitis?
Mastitis is a bacterial infection in your breast tissue. It can be caused by a blocked milk duct, breastfeeding, a cracked nipple, pregnancy, or certain medications like anti-coagulants, antibiotics, or antidepressants. A clogged duct can lead to mastitis by trapping bacteria, which then travels to other parts of your breast. The bacteria can travel to your breast tissue and result in an infection. Mastitis can also occur if your baby doesn’t latch correctly and draws out bacteria from your nipple. If you have a history of clogged ducts or frequent infections, your doctor may recommend preventive antibiotics. You may want to do the same if you have a family history of recurrent infections.
How to recognize clogged milk ducts?
Clogged milk ducts are a common problem during breastfeeding. They usually develop in your breast when a baby can’t position themselves properly to feed, causing the ducts to become blocked. This results in inflammation of the breast tissue, which can progress to mastitis if left untreated. Clogged ducts are typically seen in moms who are breastfeeding. In most cases, they’re caused by improper positioning of the infant while feeding. Blocked ducts can also be brought on by an injury to the breast like a cracked nipple, a poor latch during breastfeeding, or an insufficient quantity of breast milk. Clogged ducts usually show symptoms such as a tender or swollen breast, redness, formation of a hard area in the breast, or in some cases, fever.
Tips to prevent clogged milk ducts
There are various ways in which you can prevent clogged milk ducts. Some of the common ones are:
- Proper Positioning: Make sure you position yourself and your baby in such a way that the baby’s head is directly above the breast. Your infant should be facing your breast head first, with his or her chin touching your breast.
- Avoiding Injuries: Even the slightest injury to your breast can result in clogged ducts. Avoid using an aggressive breastfeeding technique that might result in damage. If your baby is not latching on properly, seek advice from a lactation consultant on how to fix the issue.
- Using Breast Pumps: Breasts that are not drained often can lead to clogged ducts. Make sure to use a breast pump to extract the milk and keep your breasts healthy.
- Avoiding Certain Medications: Some of the most common medications that have been linked to clogged ducts include anti-coagulants, antibiotics, and antidepressants.
How to treat clogged milk ducts?
If your breast becomes inflamed after breastfeeding, you may have clogged ducts. The best way to treat clogged ducts is to massage the affected area of your breast. You can either do it yourself or have your partner do it for you. You can use warm compresses on the breast to bring down the inflammation. If the pain is severe, you can take a painkiller to reduce the discomfort. Avoid using a breast pump as it will only worsen the condition. If you notice that the clogged duct is not going away even after massaging, you can visit your doctor. A doctor might prescribe antibiotics to treat a bacterial infection.
There’s a big difference between clogged ducts and mastitis. Clogged milk ducts are caused by improper positioning of the baby during breastfeeding, while mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue that can result from a clogged duct. Clogged ducts can be easily treated by massaging the affected area, or using a breast pump. However, if the condition worsens, you may require antibiotics to treat the infection. If you’re breastfeeding, it’s important to know the difference between clogged ducts and mastitis, and how to treat each condition.