Teacher’s Diary

As soon as puberty gains grounds in young ladies, breast lumps surface in women’s breasts. Virtually every woman has felt a lump- painful or painless in her breast at some time in their life.

Breast lumps are common amongst women (and can occur in men) and are of several types. For instance, a breast cyst is a firm fluid- filled lump in the breast. It is usually a benign (non-cancerous) lump that’s harmless. Breast cysts are thought to be caused by hormonal changes occurring at the different stages of a woman’s life. Women undergo these “hormonal revolutions” during their menstrual cycles, pre-menopausal period and post meno-pausally.

In younger women, a common type of breast lump known as fibro adenoma is termed “breast mice”. Breast mice are smooth and firm, and move around easily in the breast. They come just before or during a period and disappear after a period. They may feel painful.

Quite often, women experience breast abscess. Breast abscess is a painful collection of pus that forms under the skin of the breast. It is usually as a result of a bacterial infection. Breast abscess is also thought to be caused by changes in hormones and are commonly experienced by pre-menopausal women having hormone replacement therapy.

A type of breast lump that’s very common in breast feeding women is mastitis. In mastitis, the breast tissue becomes inflamed and painful. Mastitis is caused by an engorgement of milk within the breast or damage to the nipple, milk duct or glands in the breast.

When breast milk is not being sufficiently removed by the suckling baby, there is a build-up of breast milk (milk-statis) within the breast. Bacteria begin to breed and grow in this enabling environment of stagnant breast milk. Quickly breast tissues break down, the area becomes red, swollen, painful and uncomfortable. The breast feeding mother experiences enduring and searing pain in her breast whilst breast feeding.

In addition to this, she experiences fever, chills, aches and pains, tiredness and fatigue. She may become impatient with the baby, irritable, weepy, and unsociable due to the pain she is undergoing.

A woman suffering with mastitis should keep on feeding her baby from the affected breast. Although it is painful and miserable for her, milk from the infected breast will not harm the baby.

Plenty of rest, lots of fluid-intake, paracetamol or ibuprofen may help. Warm compress, warm baths, warm showers and stroking the breast from the lump area towards the nipple give relief. Consult your doctor on any breast lump you feel.

Omoru writes from the UK