The EclecticPhysician

The Eclectic Physician
Q&A Archive
By Dr. Beth Burch

Left breast has swollen and tender


I am 32, and for the past month my left breast has been swollen and tender. My bras no longer fit properly, and it is painful to touch. What are some possible causes and/or remedies? I do not drink caffeine.


The most important recommendation I have is to see your doctor right away for a breast exam. An examination of your breasts, along with a mammogram, ultrasound and other diagnostic testing will be able to identify the cause of your breast discomfort.

One possible cause for unilateral breast pain and inflammation is mastitis or infection of the glandular tissue of the breast. This is usually most common in women who are breastfeeding, but can occur in non-lactating women. Untreated mastitis can result in a breast abscess. Mastitis is easily treated with antibiotics, abscesses often must be surgically drained.

Another possibility is fibrocystic breast disease. This benign breast condition usually causes pain and tenderness with the formation of cysts in both breasts, but again it can occur in just one breast. Fibrocystic breast disease results from a hormonal imbalance, it can be made worse by intake of caffeine, and most often the pain and swelling is cyclical with worsening premenstrually. A low fat, high carbohydrate diet along with supplements of essential fatty acids and vitamin E is helpful for many women. Other alternative treatments for fibrocystic breast disease include liver supporting herbs like dandelion and natural progesterone. Conventional treatment may include hormones and aspiration of large cysts.

Rarely is breast pain or tenderness a sign of breast cancer. The exception is inflammatory carcinoma of the breast. This type of breast cancer is accompanied by swelling, inflammation and pain and can resemble a breast infection.

Since these conditions all have different causes and treatments, it is important to see your doctor for a proper diagnosis.

For more on Breast Pain Click Here >>

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* The information presented in this web site is intended to inform and educate. It is not intended replace a qualified medical practitioner to diagnose or treat medical conditions.

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