Here’s help for breast ten­der­ness

The Hamilton Spectator - - HEALTH - MAYO CLINIC NEWS NET­WORK

For many women, breast pain re­solves on its own over time and you may not need any treat­ment. How­ever, while there is lit­tle re­search to show the ef­fec­tive­ness of th­ese self­care reme­dies, some may be worth a try:

• Use hot or cold com­presses on your breasts.

• Wear a firm sup­port bra, fit­ted by a pro­fes­sional if pos­si­ble.

• Wear a sports bra dur­ing ex­er­cise, es­pe­cially when your breasts may be more sen­si­tive.

• Ex­per­i­ment with re­lax­ation ther­apy, which can help con­trol the high lev­els of anx­i­ety as­so­ci­ated with se­vere breast pain.

• Limit or elim­i­nate caf­feine, a di­etary change some women find help­ful, al­though med­i­cal stud­ies of caf­feine’s ef­fect on breast pain and other pre­men­strual symp­toms have been in­con­clu­sive.

• Fol­low a low-fat diet and eat more com­plex car­bo­hy­drates, a strat­egy that’s helped some women with breast pain in ob­ser­va­tional stud­ies.

• Con­sider us­ing an over-the­counter pain re­liever, such as ac­etaminophen (Tylenol, oth­ers) or ibupro­fen (Advil, Motrin IB, oth­ers) — but ask your doc­tor how much to take, as long-term use may in­crease your risk of liver prob­lems and other side-ef­fects.

• Keep a journal, not­ing when you ex­pe­ri­ence breast pain and other symp­toms, to de­ter­mine if your pain is cyclic or non­cyclic. Al­ter­na­tive medicine Vi­ta­mins and di­etary sup­ple­ments may lessen breast pain symp­toms and sever­ity for some women. Ask your doc­tor if one of th­ese might help you — and ask about doses and any pos­si­ble side­ef­fects:

• Evening prim­rose oil. This sup­ple­ment may change the bal­ance of fatty acids in your cells, which may re­duce breast pain.

• Vi­ta­min E. Early stud­ies showed a pos­si­ble ben­e­fi­cial ef­fect of vi­ta­min E on breast pain in pre­men­strual women who ex­pe­ri­ence breast pain that fluc­tu­ates dur­ing the men­strual cy­cle. In one study, 200 IU of vi­ta­min E taken twice daily for two months im­proved symp­toms in women with cyclic breast pain. There was no ad­di­tional ben­e­fit af­ter four months.

For adults older than 18 years, preg­nant women, and breast­feed­ing women, the max­i­mum dose of vi­ta­min E is 1,000 mil­ligrams daily (or 1,500 IU).

If you try a sup­ple­ment for breast pain, stop tak­ing it if you don’t no­tice any im­prove­ment in your breast pain af­ter a few months.

Try just one sup­ple­ment at a time so that you can clearly de­ter­mine which one helps al­le­vi­ate the pain — or not.

If you do re­quire treat­ment, your doc­tor might rec­om­mend that you:

• Elim­i­nate an un­der­ly­ing cause or ag­gra­vat­ing fac­tor. This may in­volve a sim­ple ad­just­ment, such as wear­ing a bra with ex­tra sup­port.

• Use a top­i­cal non­s­teroidal an­ti­in­flam­ma­tory (NSAID) med­i­ca­tion. You may need to use NSAIDs when your pain is in­tense. Your doc­tor may rec­om­mend you ap­ply an NSAID cream di­rectly to the area where you feel pain.

• Ad­just birth con­trol pills. If you take birth con­trol pills, skip­ping the pill-free week or switch­ing birth con­trol meth­ods may help breast pain symp­toms. But don’t try this with­out your doc­tor’s ad­vice.

• Re­duce the dose of menopausal hor­mone ther­apy. You might con­sider low­er­ing the dose of menopausal hor­mone ther­apy or stop­ping it en­tirely but, again, check with your doc­tor first.

• Take a pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tion.

DREAM­STIME,

There is help for breast ten­der­ness.

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