In this article we are exploring what is inflammation, what are the various types of inflammation, what causes inflammation and what we can do to combat it.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation can be defined as the response of your immune system to an intruder in the body.
The intruder is a foreign body, such as an irritant or pathogen (infective agents like viruses and bacteria).
Inflammation is an element of the body’s defense mechanism, thus it is a part of how our body attempts to heal the body.
When cells in the body are damaged or encounter a potentially harmful agent, chemicals are released to activate the immune system.
The immune system responds by discharging antibodies and proteins that attack the intrusive particles and instigate cellular repair.
The components discharged by our immune system include inflammatory cells and cytokines (a substance that stimulates more inflammatory cells).
Sometimes, the body identifies its own cells or tissues as a threat, and launches an attack on them; this condition leads to different kinds of autoimmune diseases.
Types and Symptoms of Inflammation
There are two basic types of inflammation, namely ‘Acute’ (temporary) and ‘Chronic’ (long-term) inflammation.
- Acute Inflammation
Acute inflammation occurs as a sudden response to an injury or infective foreign body. For example, when you get stung by bees, get a paper cut, or catch a cold. Acute inflammation may last for a few hours or a couple of days. Common symptoms of acute inflammation include:
Acute inflammation can also be silent, i.e. a person does not feel or observe any of the mentioned symptoms. However, they are likely to feel weak, tired, and unwell because of a fever.
- Chronic Inflammation
If the inflammatory response in the body continues to reside even when there is no perceived threat or danger, it becomes chronic.
This type of inflammation is generally associated with some illness or disorder, and may occur in response to no obvious reason.
Chronic inflammation tends to have a negative effect on health, as the long-term progression may damage cells, tissues, and organs. It can linger for months, or even years if not detected, and when the underlying health issue is not diagnosed.
The signs of chronic inflammation are a lot more subtle and negligible, as compared to acute inflammation. Common symptoms include:
Causes of Inflammation
If you are suffering from inflammation, the number of biomarkers, such as CRP (C-reactive protein), will increase in your body.
Doctors often diagnose inflammation by testing CRP levels in the bloodstream. As mentioned earlier, acute inflammation propagates in response to an injury/wound, exposure to harmful substance, or an infective agent.
On the contrary, chronic inflammation is usually associated with a serious health issue, and sometimes the underlying cause is unclear and complicated.
Some common causes of chronic inflammation are:
Health conditions largely associated with chronic inflammation:
Factors that increase the risk of Chronic Inflammation:
How to treat Inflammation?
The treatment of inflammation depends upon its cause and severity; the treatment could be aimed at managing symptoms or eliminating an underlying health issue.
Acute inflammation may heal on its own in a matter of time. You may use an OTC drug or NSAID to ease the pain, apply a skin ointment to accelerate the healing of a wound and prevent scarring, or implement a home remedy like using a cold compress on the inflamed area.
You may visit the doctor if the inflammation seems to be related to an infection. They shall prescribe an antibiotic or anti-fungal medication to fend off the pathogens.
Corticosteroids (a type of steroid hormone) are also quite effective against managing symptoms of inflammation; however, they can produce serious side effects, so never use them without the doctor’s instruction and prescription.
Many healthcare specialists recommend Vitamin and Zinc supplements to reduce and heal chronic inflammation. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies often contribute to inflammatory symptoms.
One of the most convenient and risk-free methods to cope with chronic inflammation is to shift towards an anti-inflammatory diet, such as the famous Mediterranean diet.
A wide range of organic foods and drinks can help reduce and overcome inflammation in the body.
Fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamins and fiber are ideal for counteracting inflammatory symptoms.
Fatty fish like mackerel and salmon, as well as unprocessed nuts like almonds and walnuts are very useful for healing inflammation. Olive oil and tomatoes are also loaded with anti-inflammatory constituents.
Make sure to eat lots of leafy greens (kale, spinach, lettuce, etc.), citrus fruits, and berries on a regular basis to keep inflammation at bay. Drinking lots of water throughout the day also prevents dehydration and inflammation.
The following foods should be avoided, as they aggravate symptoms of inflammation:
The best anti-inflammatory remedies are based on natural ingredients that can be found at home.
Ginger and turmeric are commonly added to food and drink to relieve pain. People suffering from chronic inflammation should include turmeric milk and ginger tea in their daily diet plan.
If cannabis is legal in your country and state, you can use cannabis infused products to relieve pain and inflammation.
However, it is important to consume it in a controlled amount to sidestep hallucinatory side effects. Several other herbs like hyssop and devil’s claw are also known for their anti-inflammatory properties.
Healthy Lifestyle Habits to Prevent and Eradicate Inflammation
In many cases, chronic inflammation can be prevented and overpowered by leading a healthy lifestyle.
Regular workout/exercise is crucial to strengthen the immune system and regulate one’s body mass.
Most people are able to eliminate inflammatory symptoms by losing extra pounds.
Seek adequate medical treatment for your injuries and illnesses to avoid onset of chronic inflammation.
If you are suffering from a chronic illness, prioritize healthcare and visit the doctor for regular checkups.
Never ignore any signs and symptoms that indicate inflammation in the body. If home remedies and OTC drugs are not working, see the doctor as soon as possible.
John Adams is a lifestyle blogger who concentrates on health, fitness, and self-development. He encourages readers to fight their fears and overcome obstacles holding them back. He believes that every person can improve the quality of his/her life by thinking positive and making better choices. He loves to share his insight on life experiences, and contributes on various online platforms in the same niche.