Clogged milk duct is a rather common problem and it affects women who are breastfeeding. This is a condition in which the milk simply cannot leave some of the ducts and its consequent accumulation leads to inflammation of the breast. The affected breast becomes sore and tender and a woman may palpate a hard lump in the breast.
Causes of Clogged Milk Duct
In majority of cases clogging develops as a consequence of increased production of the milk and insufficient emptying of the ducts. The breasts are not emptied properly even though the mother may breastfeed her child on time. Still, it may happen that babies have teething problem or suffer from certain illnesses which reduce consumption of mother's milk. The remnant milk is a perfect source for lump formation. It is essential for all women to learn how to properly breastfeed their babies. This way the breast is completely and adequately emptied and the chance of its clogging is significantly reduced.
Symptoms of Clogged Milk Duct
Remnant milk causes inflammation of the duct and surrounding tissues. The skin of the affected breast becomes red and the very breast is tender and warm to touch. Women commonly complain about pain and they may even palpate hard lumps of different size in the breast. The condition may worsen and a woman may develop fever which points to the presence of even more serious condition called mastitis. Mastitis typically develops if clogging is neglected in the initial phase.
Treatment for Clogged Milk Duct
It is a must for a woman suffering from clogged milk duct to nurse her baby more frequently. Common mistake women make is to stop breastfeeding which only leads to increased accumulation of milk and worsening of the symptoms. Emptying of the milk ducts leads to alleviation of pain and tenderness. A woman may change the position of her baby in order to enable baby to suck more milk from different areas of the breast. And after the breastfeeding is done it is important to eliminate the rest of the milk from the breast with the assistance of a breast pump.
Women may also benefit from a gentle massage of the areas of the breast affected by lumps. A massage may loosen up the duct and facilitate the elimination of remnant milk. Even warm compresses may have similar effect and alleviate the symptoms of the inflammation. In case none of the previously mentioned measures succeed within 24 hours or a woman develops additional symptoms such as fever she must visit her health care provider to receive proper treatment.