Inflammation: What You Need to Know About It

Inflammation is an important part of the immune system as it is the way the body reacts to foreign organisms that enter the body. During inflammation, the body protects itself by producing white blood cells, antibodies, and other substances to defend the body from harm.

Although inflammation is often manifested outside the body, it can also occur inside the body in a not so obvious way. However, your body will always give several signs of inflammation that could have an impact on future health problems.

How Inflammation Occurs

During inflammation, a series of events occur:

  • An injury or entry of pathogens initiates the inflammatory response
  • Small blood vessels around the affected area dilate to increase the blood flow
  • Vascular absorbency to protein intensifies
  • Fluids moving into the tissues causes swelling
  • White blood cells reach the tissue via blood vessels
  • The white blood cells surround and destroy the microbes
  • The tissues begin to repair

Causes of Inflammation

Inflammation can be caused by any of the factors below:

  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Infection or injury
  • Exposure to chemicals and other pollutants
  • Obesity
  • Smoking and alcoholism
  • Stress

Types of Inflammation

Inflammation can be categorized into two: acute and chronic inflammation.

Acute Inflammation

Inflammation is usually seen soon after an injury or bacterial infection and can last for a few days to a few weeks. Some are:

  • Acute bronchitis
  • Acute tonsillitis
  • Bruised or scratched skin
  • Sprained ankle
  • Dermatitis
  • Acute appendicitis
  • Sinusitis

Chronic Inflammation

This is inflammation that lasts for a long duration of time when the body fails to eliminate the cause of inflammation. Some conditions are:

  • Asthma
  • Hepatitis
  • Tuberculosis
  • Periodontitis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Diagnosing Inflammation

Physical examinations are usually carried out to diagnose inflammation. Pain and aches, swelling, heat, redness and reduced mobility are the common characteristics of inflammation. Inflammation conditions such as acute bronchitis, asthma to name but a few are diagnosed through physical examinations, X-rays and blood tests.

A blood test is recommended when you:

  • Are diagnosed with an autoimmune disease it is getting worse.
  • Have a clear sign of an infection.
  • Have a medical history of seasonal allergic reactions and are currently experiencing one.
  • Are febrile for more than seven days with no other symptoms
  • Experiencing unexplainable night sweats
  • Want to perform a routine check-up to check if your body is fighting inflammation.

You can get a blood test without insurance from your nearby laboratory and have your test in less than two days.

Signs of Inflammation

Symptoms of inflammation vary depending on the cause. The effects of acute inflammation can be rounded up as follows.

Pain and aches: released chemicals stimulate the nerve endings in the inflamed area, causing pain.

Redness: The capillaries in the inflamed area are filled with more blood making the area appear redder.

Swelling: fluid buildup causes swelling.

Heat: the inflamed area feels hotter due to increased blood flow to the area.

Function laesa [loss of function] –the inflamed area might fail to function due to pain.

Other than these symptoms, some other symptoms appear during chronic inflammation, depending on the affected part. Some of the acute inflammation signs include:

  • Pain
  • Immobility
  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Joint pain
  • Stomach pains
  • Rash
  • Fever

Inflammation Treatment

There are many available medicines for treating and preventing inflammation:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs [NSAIDS] such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen, and Naproxen
  • Corticosteroids, such as cortisol and Prednisone
  • Biologic drugs such as Tocilizumab and Infliximab

Foods to Eat and Avoid During Inflammation

Some foods that have been proven to relieve inflammation that you should eat too are olive oil, tomatoes, leafy greens, fatty fish, fruits such as blueberries, and nuts.

Foods that aggravate inflammation include fried foods, soda, and sugary drinks, red meat, margarine and lard, and white flour.

While a diet alone cannot cure inflammation, it boosts the immune system to react to the inflammation.

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