Overview

Gynecomastia refers to the enlargement of tissues associated with the male chest. The main cause of having Gynecomastia is due to hormonal imbalance in the body as a result of excessive secretion of estrogens when compared to androgens. It is a growing cause of concern nowadays as it affects millions of human beings throughout the world including India. Around seventy percent of such cases occur at the time of puberty of boys. However, babies and older men can also be affected by such disease but the percentage of that is low as compared to young boys. There is a sharp increase in the awareness of Gynecomastia surgery in recent years but still, a lot needs to be done.

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Symptoms

·         It occurs due to enlargement of either of the breast. The affected one may feel the area as firm or rubbery. The growth of the breast may be irregular or uniform.

·         It is important to note that breast cancer and Gynecomastia are not same. The tissue of the patients having breast cancer may not be firm and usually, in breast cancer, one breast is affected.

·         The affected breast may cause pain whenever touched by someone.

·         There are few stages associated with Gynecomastia. Initially, the swelling is small restricted to the areola. Gradually, the swelling increases and spreads to the further side of the areola with small edges appearing to blend in the chest wall. In the penultimate stage, the swelling becomes significant with prominent edges. Finally, severe swelling subsides along with feminization.

·         The symptoms in which immediate treatment is necessary for Gynecomastia includes one-sided that is unilateral swelling, extremely painful swelling, discharge of blood from the nipple, masses occurring in other parts of the body such as underarms or testicles.

Causes

·         The major factor which leads to Gynecomastia is the shift in hormonal levels. It is found mainly in babies, teenage boys at the time of puberty and in older age.

·         Newborn male babies may have high levels of estrogen from their mother.

·         Teenagers are affected most since at this period there are significant changes in the hormone level due to a large amount of hormone released during puberty, which in turn results in unbalance of breast growth.

·         The older persons affected due to a significant drop in testosterone level.

·         There are also other factors which can cause Gynecomastia, some of which are an intake of some prescribed medicines for a long period, intake of drugs recreational of nature and genetically acquired symptom.

·         Bodybuilding steroids are the common causes of Gynecomastia. The person taking such steroids generally gets affected by the increase in the estrogen levels. Thus, taking this kind of drugs has side effects and hence it is suggested to stop if someone is affected with Gynecomastia.

·         It is a rare cause but still in some cases, specific food can also lead to Gynecomastia. Foods having a high level of phytoestrogens can increase the breast tissue. The foods containing such high level of phytoestrogens are processed foods, nut oils, seeds, legumes, and soya.

Diagnosis & Treatments

To avoid risk factor diagnosis and treatment is required at the very beginning.

The doctor generally notices the period from which the breast size changes. It is also needed to know whether it is a genetically acquired symptom from the family or not. The diagnosis includes knowing the patient intake of alcohol or other drugs or infertility problems. The doctor can test both blood and hormone to get an idea of the patient. The test shows how much the breast size differs with the normal.

Treatment should be done in cases where the breast size is causing pain for a longer period. For teenagers if it disappears by own within a year then it is alright, otherwise, proper care should be taken. Ice bags and ibuprofen is a useful measure in reducing pain. It is necessary to determine what the actual cause of Gynecomastia is. If avoiding regular drugs helps to reduce the breast size then it should stop by consulting with doctors. The doctor may prescribe medicine if it does not reduce size naturally. The medicine can be helpful in reducing the level of estrogen. Gynecomastia surgery is necessary at times as it can help to improve the shape and size of the breast.