How to Treat Painful and Swollen Breasts

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Breast pain is a pretty common occurance for women. Many times it is related to the menstrual cycle, which is called cyclical breast pain.

Breasts may be swollen and feel heavy and bloated before a menstrual cycle.Usually both breasts are affected at the same time. It occurs because some women’s breasts are particularly sensitive to hormone changes.The pain may start when the woman is in her 20's or 30's and last until menopause. There may be times with the pain goes away for periods of time.

Here are some ways to treat painful and swollen breasts.

How to Treat Painful and Swollen Breasts

Try a low-fat diet. There is some evidence that high levels of saturated fats in the blood make the breasts more sensitive to hormone levels, so it may be worth changing your diet. Avoid fatty meat, cheese, full-fat milk, cream, butter and anything made of pastry. Instead eat oily fish, such as herring and mackerel, twice a week. Fill up with carbohydrates (bread, potatoes, rice, pasta), fresh fruit and vegetables.

Wear a well-fitted bra or sports bra for support, especially if you have large breasts. You may want to wear a comfortable bra to bed.

New studies are evaluating topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to determine whether they're effective in managing noncyclic breast pain. Topical medicine comes in a cream or gel, which you rub onto your breasts.

Daily vitamin E can reduce fibrocystic changes. Avoid doses higher than 600 mg per day.

Limit your intake of caffeine in coffee and soft drinks, theophyllines in tea, and theobromine in chocolate. Although the role of these methylxanthines is controversial, some women report improvement in pain when they limit these.

Apply warm compresses to your breasts for pain relief.

Tips & Warnings

  • Relax. Severe breast pain may be associated with high levels of anxiety and may improve with relaxation therapy.
  • Keep a pain diary. Make note of the days that breast pain is experienced and record any other symptoms. This can be helpful in determining whether breast pain is cyclic or non-cyclic.
  • For severe breast pain, use danazol. Danazol is the only drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of breast pain. Be aware that use of danazol is associated with potentially serious side effects and should be taken only if there is severe breast pain.
  • If breast pain persists, see a doctor A doctor will exam the breasts. If the doctor detects a breast lump or an unusual thickening in breast tissue, he or she will likely recommend mammography and possibly ultrasound to evaluate the area. The cause of the pain could be breast cancer in that case.

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