Read below about swollen breast, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your swollen breast from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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Swollen Breast Symptoms

Swelling is the result of fluid buildup in your body's tissues. Since the breasts are composed of both fat and connective tissue (as well as milk ducts and glands), they are easily susceptible to changes in fluid volume and swelling.

A swollen breast is easily noticeable as it will appear larger than normal.

Symptoms that you may experience in addition to your breast swelling can include:

  • Tenderness or soreness
  • Veins in the breast that are more visible
  • Redness or warmth to the touch
  • Feeling of heaviness in your breast
  • Changes in texture to the skin of your breasts

In addition to breast swelling, you may also experience hard lumps in the breast. Though this is not always a cause for concern, it can also be a sign of breast cancer.

See your doctor promptly if you notice the following symptoms in addition to swelling or lumps in the breast:

  • A new, fixed lump in the breast that doesn't change with your menstrual cycle
  • Cracked nipple or excessive dryness of your nipple
  • Changes to the color of the nipple or skin around the nipple
  • Changes to the texture of the nipple or skin of the breast (wrinkling, puckering or dimpling
  • Unexpected nipple discharge

Swollen Breast Causes Overview

Breast swelling can signal a range of harmless to life-threatening issues, so it is important to follow-up your swollen breast symptoms with your physician in order to get an appropriate diagnosis and care.

Reproductive causes:

  • Hormonal: The breast is very sensitive to fluctuations in the hormones estrogen and progesterone. These hormones are essential to the menstrual cycle and a woman's reproductive system. Before the beginning of each menstrual cycle, estrogen levels increase causing the breasts to enlarge and retain water. This results in breast swelling and its associated symptoms.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Pregnancy in itself can cause hormone fluctuations that can also result in breast swelling and tenderness. Moreover, breastfeeding can also cause swelling due to infection and engorgement.

    • Infection. Infection of the milk ducts of the breast is known as mastitis. Mastitis can result in cracked or blistering nipples that may also cause red streaks on the breast. The inflammation from the infection can cause pain and swelling that is very common among women breastfeeding.
    • Engorgement. This occurs when the breasts become too full of milk. The breasts enlarge and become swollen, pressing against the skin. This can also result in a tight painful sensation as well.

Lumps

  • Noncancerous: Some women experience very pronounced changes to breast tissue in response to fluctuation in hormones. These changes are called fibrocystic changes or fibrocystic breasts and can result in multiple tender, sometimes painful breast lumps. The lumps are either the result of excess growth of fibrous tissue or enlargement of the breast ducts and glands. Fibrocystic changes are noncancerous lumps that often appear right before your menstrual cycle or during.
  • Cancerous: Breast swelling can be a symptom of breast cancer. Some types of breast cancers result in a hardened lump that results in swelling and other types block lymph vessels that also result in swelling. Regardless of the type of cancer, any lumps or swelling of the breast associated with the symptoms below must be followed up with your physician.

    • Cracking or excessive dryness of your nipple
    • Changes in color or texture to the nipple or skin around the nipple
    • Unexpected nipple discharge

Medications

  • Medications that contain hormones or affect hormone levels can also cause breast swelling symptoms. For example, contraceptive medications that contain estrogen can often cause breast swelling and symptoms such as soreness and heaviness very similar to those related to pre-menstrual swelling.

A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Swollen Breast

The list below shows results from the use of our A.I. Health Assistant by Buoy users who experienced swollen breast. This list does not constitute medical advice.

  1. 1.Breast Infection (Mastitis)

    Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue that results in breast pain, swelling, warmth and redness of the breast. Mastitis most commonly affects women who are breast-feeding (lactation mastitis), although sometimes this condition can occur in women who aren't breast-feeding.

    2-3 weeks with treatment

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, nausea, breast pain, signs of breast inflammation like redness, swelling or fever, fever
    Symptoms that always occur with breast infection (mastitis):
    breast pain, signs of breast inflammation like redness, swelling or fever
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Plugged Breast Duct

    If you're making milk faster than it's getting expressed, it can get backed up in the duct. When this happens, the tissue around the duct may become swollen and inflamed and press on the duct, causing a blockage.

    Days

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    breast pain, breast lump, painful breast lump
    Symptoms that never occur with plugged breast duct:
    fever, breast redness
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.Breast Cyst

    A breast cyst is a fluid-filled sac (like a tiny balloon) inside the breast. Breast cysts are common in women. They might cause a little pain, but they are usually benign (not cancerous).

    Resolves with treatment but can recur

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    breast pain, breast lump, painful breast lump, movable breast lump
    Symptoms that always occur with breast cyst:
    breast lump
    Symptoms that never occur with breast cyst:
    armpit lump, fever
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.Breast Abscess

    A breast infection is an infection in the tissue of the breast. Breast infections are usually caused by a common bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus, found on normal skin.

    2-3 weeks with treatment

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    nausea, breast pain, signs of breast inflammation like redness, swelling or fever, fever, chills
    Symptoms that always occur with breast abscess:
    breast pain, signs of breast inflammation like redness, swelling or fever
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

    Swollen Breast Checker

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  5. 5.Fibrocystic Breast Changes

    Fibrocystic change is a generalized term used to describe a variety of benign changes in the breast. Symptoms of this condition are breast swelling or pain, as well as nodules, lumpiness, or nipple discharge.

    Relapsing, lasting years

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    breast lump, hard breast lump, nipple discharge, rope-like breast lump
    Symptoms that always occur with fibrocystic breast changes:
    breast lump
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  6. 6.Premenstrual Syndrome

    Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a very common condition. PMS has a variety of symptoms including cramping, mood swings, food cravings, fatigue, irritability, breast tenderness & depression.

    Symptoms of premenstrual syndrome can last all the way into menopause.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    stomach bloating, anxiety, constipation, depressed mood, breast pain
    Symptoms that never occur with premenstrual syndrome:
    constant sadness, severe sadness, disapearance of periods for over a year
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  7. 7.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.

    7 days

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    breast pain, breast swelling, armpit pain
    Symptoms that always occur with non-specific breast pain:
    breast pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  8. 8.Breast Cancer

    Breast cancer affects one in eight women during their lives. It is caused by uncontrolled and fast growth of damaged cells in the breast tissue. These cells can also move to the lymph nodes and sometimes other organs. The main symptom of breast cancer is a hard or firm, non-mobile, usually non-tender lump in the breast that increases in size.

    Indefinite

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    breast pain, armpit lump, breast mass or retraction, breast lump, nipple discharge
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  9. 9.Possible Pregnancy

    In women of reproductive age, symptoms including missed period, weight gain, and nausea are indicative of pregnancy.

    9 months

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, nausea or vomiting, stomach bloating, bloody vaginal discharge, vaginal bleeding
    Symptoms that always occur with possible pregnancy:
    missed period
    Symptoms that never occur with possible pregnancy:
    painful urination, severe abdominal pain
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment

Swollen Breast Treatments and Relief

Treatment for breast swelling will depend on the cause of your swollen breast symptoms.

Make an appointment with your physician as soon as you notice swollen breast symptoms in order to get the appropriate treatment.

  • If your breast swelling is caused by hormonal changes, your doctor may suggest contraceptive methods such as birth control pills. Pills that contain less estrogen may relive breast swelling and its associated symptoms. However, if your current contraceptive method is the cause of your symptoms, your physician will discuss available alternatives
  • If your swelling is the result of infection from breastfeeding or other causes, your physician will prescribe antibiotics.
  • If your swelling is the result of breast cancer, your physician will discuss a treatment plan based on the type, location and stage of your cancer. Common treatments include chemotherapy, radiation, surgery or a combination of the three options.

Often breast swelling can be associated with pain, tenderness and discomfort.

You can relieve these swollen breast symptoms at home with the following at home remedies and treatments:

  • Wear a supportive bra
  • Apply heat or ice (covered in a cloth or bag) to your breasts every 15 minutes
  • Use over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or other NSAIDs to relieve soreness and tenderness.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Swollen Breast

  • Q.Are you sexually active?
  • Q.Do you currently use estrogen as a hormone replacement therapy?
  • Q.Do you feel pain when you urinate?
  • Q.Do you drink alcohol?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our swollen breast symptom checker to find out more.

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Swollen Breast Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced swollen breast have also experienced:

    • 11% Breast Pain
    • 3% Rib Pain on One Side
    • 3% Bloody Vaginal Discharge
  • People who have experienced swollen breast had symptoms persist for:

    • 41% Less Than a Week
    • 16% Over a Month
    • 16% One to Two Weeks
  • People who have experienced swollen breast were most often matched with:

    • 40% Breast Infection (Mastitis)
    • 30% Plugged Breast Duct
    • 30% Breast Cyst
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

A.I. Health Assistant

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having swollen breast

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