212. Relief for Breast Pain and Swelling

If you should discover a lump in your breast, don’t panic: Chances are it’s benign (noncancerous). Many benign breast lumps turn out to be cysts filled with fluid, and they sometimes cause pain. They can occur as a single lump or in clusters that give a “lumpy” feel and appearance to the breast.

The presence of multiple benign breast cysts is known as fibrocystic breast disease. Symptoms include tenderness and pain in one or both breasts about one week before a menstrual period. A nonbloody nipple discharge may also be present.

No one knows what causes fibrocystic disease, but doctors suspect it’s due to an increase in estrogen or prolactin levels. For some women, breast pain can be severe and disabling.

To reduce breast pain:

  1. Limit salt and sodium intake, to prevent fluid buildup in the breasts.

  2. Wear a bra that provides good support. (You may want to wear a bra while you sleep, too.)

  3. For severe discomfort, apply warm heat (a heating pad set on low or hot water bottle) for 30 minutes, then an ice pack to your breasts for 10 minutes. Repeat as needed. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever.

  4. Cut down on caffeine. Some studies indicate that women who are heavy coffee drinkers and suffer from fibrocystic disease find relief when they cut their caffeine intake.

  5. Take vitamin E supplements, as advised by your doctor.

In any case, it’s important to report any breast lumps or discomfort to your doctor even if you’ve had only benign problems so far.

Also, if an area of the breast feels warm, with swelling and redness, contact your doctor. These could be signs of infection, which may need to be treated with antibiotics.

Chapter 9
  1. Women’s Health Problems