Causes of Breast swelling and tenderness

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Premenstrual breast swelling and tenderness is a common condition among women. Breast swelling and tenderness are more often linked with pregnancy, breastfeeding, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS), they are also common symptoms of menopause. The majority of women will experience breast swelling and tenderness at some point, as they are common medical symptoms. Premenstrual breast swelling and tenderness can also be a sign of fibrocystic breast disease.
Causes of Breast Swelling and Tenderness

The main cause of breast swelling and tenderness is hormonal imbalance. Swollen breasts are most likely to occur during menopause when the levels of hormones in the body fluctuate. Breast tenderness is also most commonly associated with fibrocysticchanges in breast tissue that often occur during pregnancy, breast-feeding, or menopause. Estrogen and progesterone both increase during the second half of the cycle — days 14 to 28 in a “typical” 28-day cycle. Estrogen peaks in the middle of the cycle, while progesterone levels rise during the week before menstruation.
Medications that contain estrogen can also cause breast changes such as tenderness and swelling.

Less common causes for breast swelling and tenderness include:

  • Excessive caffeine and salt intake

  • Mastitis

  • Pregnancy

  • Oral contraception

Symptoms of Breast Swelling and Tenderness

  • Increasing breasts size

  • Heavy feeling

  • Breasts being sore to the touch

  • A dull aching in the breasts

Managing Breast Swelling and Tenderness

There are many lifestyle adjustments that can help make breast swelling and tenderness more manageable:
Reduce caffeine and salt consumption. Since excessive consumption of both nutrients can cause water retention in breasts, they can easily be linked to a stronger sensation of swelling and tenderness.
Consume more vitamin E. This vitamin has long been popular for providing relief from breast pain and swelling.
Put on a well-fitting bra. This may be one of the simplest and most effective ways of reducing breast pain.
Use warm compresses. Applying a warm compress at the base of each breast can help relieve the pain after a particularly painful day.

Treatment for Breast Swelling and Tenderness

Premenstrual breast pain can be treated effectively with over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as:

  • Acetaminophen

  • Ibuprofen

  • Naproxen sodium

These medications can also relieve cramping associated with PMS. Women with moderate to severe breast swelling and discomfort should consult their doctor about the best course of treatment. Diuretics can reduce swelling, tenderness, and water retention. However, diuretic medications increase your urine output and can also increase your risk of dehydration. Use such prescriptions carefully under your doctor’s direction.
Hormonal birth control, including oral contraceptive pills, could also calm your premenstrual breast symptoms. Ask your healthcare provider about these options if you suffer from severe breast pain and are not interested in becoming pregnant in the near future.

Seeking medical attention
Sudden or worrisome breast changes should be discussed with your doctor. While most premenstrual breast pain and swelling is harmless, these symptoms could be warning signs of infection or other medical conditions. Contact your health provider if you notice:
New or changing breast lumps
Discharge from the nipple, especially if discharge is brown or bloody
Breast pain that interferes with your ability to sleep or perform daily tasks
Unilateral lumps, or lumps that occur only in one breast
Your doctor will perform a physical examination, including a breast exam, and will ask for more. Likely Questions to be asked by the doctor include:

Have you noticed any discharge from the nipple?
What other symptoms (if any) are you experiencing?
Does breast pain and tenderness occur with each menstrual period?
During a breast examination, your doctor will feel for any lumps, and will take notes about the physical qualities of the lumps. If asked, your doctor can also show you how to properly perform a self breast exam.

If your doctor detects any abnormal changes, they may perform a mammogram (or an ultrasound if you are under age 35). A mammogram uses X-ray imaging to view the inside of the breast. During this test, the breast is placed between an X-ray plate and a plastic plate and compressed, or flattened, to create a clear image. This test may cause temporary discomfort or a pinching sensation. In some cases, a biopsy (tissue sample from the breast lump) may be necessary if lumps appear to be malignant (cancerous).


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