- Your Breast Swelling May Also be Known as:
- Breast feels puffy
- Breast feels swollen
- Breast is puffy
- Breast is swollen
- Breast puffiness
- Nipple feels puffy
- Nipple feels swollen
- Nipple is puffy
- Nipple is swollen
Breast Swelling Symptoms
Unexplained breast swelling can be concerning for women, and for good reason. Any changes within the breast can signify a serious medical issue. However, there are plenty of other reasons behind breast swelling and other changes that are non-life threatening and even normal in some situations.
Some breast swelling symptoms include:
- Heavy feeling in the chest
- Tenderness and discomfort which may extend into the armpits
- Skin changes around the breasts
- Warm feeling on the swollen area
- Possible lumps in the breasts
Breasts are tissue over the pectoral muscles that serves as the mammary gland in women. In women, breast tissue produces milk along with fatty tissue. The amount of fat produced by the breast determines its size.
The part of the breast that produces milk when required is made up of 15-20 sections. These sections, called lobes, are smaller structures that produce the milk. The liquid travels to the nipples through ducts. Breasts also contain connective tissue and ligaments along with nerves, blood vessels, and lymph nodes.
Breasts go through a variety of changes throughout a woman's life. From development during puberty to adaptions during pregnancy to changes after menopause, it's normal for breasts to change in size, appearance, and shape over time.
However, the same changes that can be classified as normal can also signify serious medical concerns. Therefore, it's important for women to always perform self-breast checks and inform their doctor of any concerning changes as soon as possible.
Breast Swelling Causes Overview
As already stated, any change in the breast should be noted and monitored. But the good news is that the majority of breast swelling concerns can be explained by a cause that isn't linked to a serious medical issue.
Consider the following types of causes when determining the reason behind swelling in the breast.
- Infectious causes: Infectious causes are one reason for breast swelling. If there is a crack in the skin or the breast is poked with a contaminated object, both bacterial and fungal infections are possible. Infections can also enter through the nipple.
- Traumatic causes: Traumatic causes include physical injury. There are a variety of ways breast injury can occur. One of the most traumatic is a car accident or other intense force. But something as simple as bumping into a sharp corner or wearing tight clothing can cause breast swelling.
- Medical causes: Medical causes could be behind swelling in the breast. The most serious would be breast cancer but swelling alone is not reason enough to believe cancer is present. If there are also lumps in the breast, a check-up is always recommended but keep in mind that there are medical conditions that cause benign breast lumps.
- Other causes: Other causes of breast swelling include premenstrual syndrome, water retention, and pregnancy. Taking birth control pills can also cause swelling. In these situations, swelling is expected and not an immediate cause for concern.
Top 2 Breast Swelling Causes
1.Non - Specific Breast Pain
Breast pain is either related to menstruation (cyclic) or not (noncyclic). It is common in pre-menopausal women and can also be a side effect of contraceptives that contain hormones like the pill, anticonceptive injections and intra-uterine devices.
Unless the pain is unbearable or there is a lump, a doctor will likely just reassure you that things are okay. Some women are treated with Danazol if the pain is severe or persistent.
- Top Symptoms:
- breast pain, breast swelling, armpit pain
- Symptoms that always occur with non-specific breast pain:
- breast pain
- Primary care doctor
Breast Swelling Checker
Take a quiz to find out why you’re having breast swelling.Take a quiz
2.Enlarged Breasts (Gynecomastia)
Gynecomastia is the swelling of breast tissue in boys in men, which may be caused by an imbalance of the hormones estrogen and testosterone. It is generally not a serious problem and is normal during puberty.
Contact your primary care physician for evaluation. As gynecomastia may be a side effect of medications, recreational drugs, or diet rich in hormones (e.g. milk or meat from estrogen-treated cows), consider evaluating and discontinuing the use of any of the above.
- Top Symptoms:
- rib pain, decreased sex drive, painful chest wall lump, pain on the tip of the nose, movable chest- wall lump
- Symptoms that never occur with enlarged breasts (gynecomastia):
- severe rib pain
- Primary care doctor
Breast Swelling Treatments and Relief
If you believe the cause of your breast swelling is related to a non-serious cause, there are a few home treatments you can try to relieve any associated discomfort.
But if you notice any of the following, schedule an appointment with your doctor sooner than later.
- Painless lumps
- Noticeable change in size or shape of one or both breasts
- Dimples in breast skin
- Nipple appearance changes
- Discharge or bleeding from the nipple
When treating breast swelling, try the following treatments.
- Supportive Clothing: If you believe tight clothing is behind your breast swelling, switch to supportive bras and shirts to see if there's a change.
- Ice or Heat Pack: If an injury is behind your breast swelling, try applying ice or heat for relief.
- Change of Pills or Medication: For hormonal causes, discuss switching medications with your doctor. If contraceptives are the cause of the swelling, you might be able to try a different brand.
- Over the Counter Meds : Pain relieving medications can also relieve swelling if the cause behind them isn't related to a serious underlying condition like cancer.
Breast swelling can be a normal occurrence. But if you have a history of breast diseases in your family or have reason to believe there is a serious cause behind your discomfort, it's always best to seek medical advice.
But before panic sets in, know that most breast changes are part of their normal cycle.
FAQs About Breast Swelling
Here are some frequently asked questions about breast swelling.
Do breasts swell before period?
Yes, breast swelling in sync with a menstrual cycle is normal. It frequently involves both breasts and is caused by alteration of ducts within the breast tissue. In response to the hormones released just prior to a menstrual period, a woman's body begins some very early changes that prepare it for a child. One of these changes involves development of breast tissue in preparation for milk production and delivery. This can cause intermittent breast swelling. If you have breast swelling that occurs out of sync with your period, you should seek medical evaluation.
Are swollen breasts a sign of pregnancy?
Yes. Breasts can swell early in pregnancy. They can swell within one or two weeks of pregnancy or become tender. Swollen breasts can also occur closer to birth as the body prepares to make milk for the newborn. Breast swelling is one of the most commonly cited early signs of pregnancy. If you suspect you are pregnant, you should either seek medical evaluation or take an over-the-counter pregnancy test.
Why do I only have one swollen breast?
One swollen breast can be a sign of benign (non-invasive) or malignant (invasive) tumor mass, infection of the nipple and milk ducts in a breastfeeding mother, or, more infrequently, changes coinciding with menstration. If you have one swollen breast that does not swell in sync with your menstrual period, you should consider evaluation by your general practitioner.
Can swollen breast be a result of breastfeeding (breast engorgement)?
Yes, breastfeeding can lead to mastitis or swelling of the breast from infection, usually from a baby's mouth. The most common and appropriate treatment is to continue to breastfeed while taking anti-inflammatory pain medication, remembering to wipe milk or formula from the gums of the infant to decrease the amount of bacteria, and a penicillin antibiotic may help alleviate symptoms faster.
When should you seek medical attention for swollen breasts?
When swelling persists out of sync with a period, or is accompanied by a fever, pus, or redness. Swelling of both breasts is less worrisome than swelling of one breast. If you have other symptoms like a prolonged cough, fever, or chills you should seek medical attention. If you have a diffuse rash or bleeding from the nipple you should also seek medical attention.
Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Breast Swelling
- Q.How long has your breast/pec been swollen?
- Q.How swollen is your breast/pec?
- Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
- Q.Has your vaginal discharge been getting better or worse?
If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, check our breast swelling symptom checker.Take a quiz
Breast Swelling Symptom Checker Statistics
People who have experienced breast swelling have also experienced:
- 11% Bloody Vaginal Discharge
- 8% Breast Pain
- 6% Vaginal Bleeding
People who have experienced breast swelling had symptoms persist for:
- 51% Less Than a Week
- 16% One to Two Weeks
- 13% Less Than a Day
People who have experienced breast swelling were most often matched with:
- 14% Non - Specific Breast Pain
Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).