Clinical Pearl of the Day: Galactorrhea
Galactorrhea is a milky nipple discharge unrelated to the normal milk production of breast-feeding.
- Galactorrhea itself isn't a disease, but it could be a sign of an underlying problem.
- It typically occurs in women, even those who have never had children, or after menopause.
- Galactorrhea can happen in men and even in infants.
- Excessive breast stimulation, medication adverse effects, or disorders of the pituitary gland all may contribute to galactorrhea.
- Symptoms include persistent milky nipple discharge, one or both breasts affected, absent or irregular menstrual periods, headaches, or vision problems.
- Causes: Medications, opioid use, herbal supplements, birth control pills, chronic kidney disease, excessive breast stimulation, nerve damage, spinal cord surgery, and stress.
- Diagnosis: Physical exam, blood test, pregnancy test, mammography, ultrasound, and possible MRI.
- Treatment may include stopping some medications that cause galactorrhea—levothyroxine if thyroid gland is involved; taking medications to make the tumors smaller for surgery; and taking medications, such as bromocriptine or cabergoline, to lower the prolactin levels.