Gynecomastia means development of breast tissue in males. Boys have mammary glands just as girls do. Normally, all males have a low grade of female hormones (estrogens) as well as male hormones (testosterones or androgens) in their bodies. If the balance becomes disrupted, gynecomastia can result -- some degree of gynecomastia may develop in as many as half of all boys.
Appropriate health care includes:
Evaluation by your son's personal physician.
Surgery (rarely) for cosmetic purposes.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSSlight swelling of the dark brown area surrounding both nipples (areola), beginning at puberty (usually between 10 and 16 years for boys).
Swelling increases in warm weather.
Rare, minor pain in enlarged area--worse when participating in sports activities.
Size can vary from a barely noticeable "button" to a significantly enlarged breast, similar to a woman's.
CAUSESSensitivity to normal hormonal changes in early puberty--the only common cause.
--Mistakenly taking pills with estrogen (such as birth-control pills).
--Alcohol and other drug abuse, particularly marijuana.
Inherited tendency toward gynecomastia.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCEKeep substances containing estrogen away from children.
Physical exam and family history by a physician.
Blood tests, radioactive tests, and X-rays to rule out rare causes (rarely needed).
Emotional and behavioral problems.
Anxiety regarding not being a "male."
Worry about possible tumors.
As normal hormonal activity subsides at puberty (usually 12 to 18 months after the onset of gynecomastia), the condition disappears.
HOME CARENone, except providing your son with accurate information and offering emotional support.
DIET & FLUIDS
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?Yes.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your son's breasts become quite large at puberty and don't change in a reasonable time.
Fluid seeps from the nipple of an enlarged male breast. (This may indicate a brain tumor.)