Breast swelling is a common condition that many women experience at least once in their lifetime.
It is referred by breast engorgement swelling, tightness, and heavy and increased size of the breast are occur.
BS generally occurs in many women due to hormonal changes during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and before periods.
However, breast pain, swelling, redness, tenderness, and more sensitivity are the most common breast-related issue in women.
In addition, at some time in their lives, up to 70% of women suffer mastalgia, a common problem among women.
There are several treatments including home remedies, prescribed medicines, and other ways that prevent breast swelling (1)
If you experience severe swelling, pain, and other discomforts, then should consult the doctor, it may be some other issue.
What Reason Behind Breast Swelling?
The breast is made up of 4 main tissue fat tissue, milk ducts, glands, and connective tissue (2)
Breast tissue is changed in size, and volume based on the fluid it holds, and as a result breast swelling, soreness, pain, and sensitivity.
Breast swelling occurs due to several reasons, but hormonal imbalance during different life stages in women is the most common reason.
The women’s different life stages are:
Pregnancy: During pregnancy estrogen and progesterone hormones fluctuate, which leads to breast swelling, and pain.
But during pregnancy several things happen in the body like increased hair growth, blood quantity, increase weight, etc.
Pre-menstrual: In periods estrogen and progesterone levels increase, which makes breast tissue more sensitive, large, swell, and overall leads to pain (3)
It is a normal issue due to hormonal changes, but if you face other discomforts, then you should seek medical help.
Periods are a natural phenomenon in women, where releasing eggs from the ovary occurs per month through bleeding.
Breastfeeding: During pregnancy, milk creation is made for breastfeeding after delivery.
It also has the best way to reduce several illnesses like promoting relaxation by releasing stress hormones and promoting well-being.
Frequent breastfeeding is best to prevent breast pain, and can also resolve other breast-related issues (4)
An Infection also occurs in breastfeeding women, which may enter your breast through wounds, and milk ducts, leading to breast swelling (5)
If you face sudden swollen breast changes, then it may be an insect bit sign or infection, so talk to your healthcare provider.
The Premenstrual syndrome occurs in most women before their periods every month, which leads to physical and behavioral changes (6)
Behavioral and mood symptoms include stress, depression, mood swings, anxiety, and breast-related issue like tenderness, bloating, etc.
These PMS-related symptoms are improved after starting their period (7) (8)
Several breast conditions lead to breast swelling and other breast-related issues like pain, etc including:
In this condition, breast tissue becomes dense, with cysts, and lumps, but it is not a cancer sign, resulting in swelling, pain, etc (9)
It is most common in 30 to 60% of women worldwide and women between the ages of 30 to 50 years are more at risk of it (10)
In this condition, breast tissue is not affected, but there is more due to swelling in the breast bone behind the breast pain, and swelling (11)
This happens due to trauma, like any accident and injury on the breast side (12)
Research indicates that young age Indian women are at major risk of breast cancer.
BS is a warning sign of breast cancer, but fatigue, feeling irritable, burning, nipple turning inward, etc is other signs of cancer (13) (14)
Studies tell in the majority of scenarios, that breast pain is not a sign of breast cancer, but still recommends early diagnosis (15)
Other Causes of Breast Swelling
Apart from these common breast swelling issues, various things lead to BS and other breast-related issues including:
- Medication like birth control pills, and medicines side effects
- caffeine intake
- excessive alcohol and smoking
- it may be your unsupportive bra or wire bra
- if you have a medical issue, then breastfeeding may lead to breast swelling
- certain food that is high in too much salt, and caffeine.
Common Symptoms of Breast Swelling
Breast swelling is a common sign of several breast-related issues, however, other signs which may be indications of other breast issues are:
- Tenderness or pain
- breast feel heavy leading to breast pain (16)
- In some women can see only one side of the breast swelling
Other signs of the breast-realted issue are:
- breast enlargement
- feel the warmth on the breast
- breast become more sensitive
- swelling, and lumps on the breast
- redness or red nerves lines
- itching, irritation, and rash on the breast
- nipple discharge like dark yellow, etc
If you experience severe swelling, and other discomforts that interact with your daily life, then talk to your doctor it may be a cancer sign.
Ways To Relieve From Breast Swelling
The treatment of breast swelling depends on what cause of your breast swelling, here are some ways to treat include:
OTC and antibiotics are best but talk to your doctor first, they will recommend you according to your current condition.
The doctor may recommend pain relief medicine, but make sure to drink enough water with the medicines to prevent dehydration.
It mainly not consider by doctors, In some cases, antibiotics, and other prescribed medicines resolve breast swelling (17)
Make sure that before taking any new therapy, talk to your doctor, especially if you are breastfeeding.
As we say that breast swelling treatment depends on your reasons, if you are diagnosed with breast cancer, then surgery may be needed.
But in most cases, surgery is not needed (18)
- wearing a supportive bra, which also lifts the heavy breast
- apply hot and cold compresses
- use a pillow to prevent pain due to swelling
- if it occurs during breastfeeding, then frequent breastfeeding is an excellent way to prevent swelling, which will help in milk empty.
- massage with essential oils properties may help in reducing swelling
- Acupuncture, where practitioners insert needles in your breast, relieves breast swelling (19) (20)
- Cabbage leaves have an anti-swelling property, which can help breast engorgement and breast pain according to an NCBI study
- follow lifestyle changes like – reducing unhealthy food, monitoring your breast, etc
Talk to your doctor, before taking any medication, or any home remedy, because a proper diagnosis helps in doing the proper treatment.
When To Seek Medical Help?
If you are experiencing:
- If lumps or formation of new lumps or masses in the breast, then seek medical help
- if swelling increases in other breast areas or the body
- redness does not go away, even after several home remedies and prescribed medicine
- nipple discharge is common, but if seen as dark yellow, green, and other colors, then seek medical help
- change in size and shape of the breast
- if you see that one breast is different from other breasts in shape, size, etc
- skin color changes
- no changes in swelling, or if it increases more
In other cases of breast-related issues also talk to your healthcare provider including:
- Face severe or frequent breast pain or discomfort
- if symptoms become worse and no improvement
- any signs of infection and redness in the certain breast area
- fever or if it increases
- if a baby has thrush in his mouth, it may lead to infection on the nipple (21)
- during breastfeeding, if your baby’s weight is not increased, which generally occurs due to improper latching.
Again, if you experience severe pain, swelling, and any discomfort in your body, talk to your doctor, it may be a warning sign.
Because early diagnosis and proper treatment can prevent disease complications.
Breast swelling is a warning sign of breast cancer, but may occur due to an insect bite or infection.
There are several ways to treat BS like hot and cold compresses, wearing a comfortable bra, prescribed medicines, etc.
BS generally occurs due to hormonal changes in pregnant women, before periods, and during breastfeeding due to excessive milk production.
In severe pain, swelling, and any other discomfort immediately talk to your doctor to prevent future complications.