All you need to know about Inflammation

Inflammation can be defined as the defense mechanism of the human body that protects it by fighting against injuries, infections and toxins. It aids in the healing process by recognizing damaged cells, irritants, pathogens, etc. and releasing a chemical that triggers response from the immune system. It releases antibodies and proteins, while increasing the blood flow to the damaged area. 

Inflammation is a significant indication that the body is fighting to heal in response to something harmful. Over time, it can have negative impacts on the body tissues, and may even put the body atrisk of serious conditions including cancer and asthma. 

Medical experts categorize Inflammation in two types:
  • Acute Inflammation

Caused by harmful bacteria or tissue injuries, acute inflammationstarts rapidly and develops asa severe condition in a quick space of time. Though it persists for only a few days, it can turn into abscess or develop as chronic inflammation. 
  • Chronic Inflammation 

Chronic inflammation refers to a long-term inflammation that could last for months or years. It is a type of autoimmune disease that attacks healthy tissues, misidentifying them as pathogen. It may result in tissue death or thickening and scarring of connective tissue.

Causes of Inflammation 

The immune system triggers a number of physical reactions in response to injuries or infections, which can result in inflammation. Inflammation doesn’t guarantee the presence of infections, while infections can lead to serious inflammatory conditions.  

Some factors that cause acute inflammation include:
  • Acute bronchitis 
  • Infected ingrown toenail
  • Injuries due to cuts or scratches
  • Sore throat caused by cold or flu
  • Acute appendicitis
Some factors that cause chronic inflammation include:
  • Untreated cases of acute inflammation
  • Autoimmune disorder that attacks healthy tissues
  • Long-term exposure irritants (polluted air, industrial chemicals)  
  • Chronic stress
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Overweight or Obesity 

These are some potential factors that can cause acute or chronic inflammation. Though in many cases, clear underlying root causes of inflammation remainunrecognized.

Symptoms of Inflammation 

The signs and symptoms depends upon the type of inflammation, whether acute or chronic. It also depends upon the part of body where the infection occurs. Some general symptoms of inflammation include:
  • Redness and pain
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Swollen joint (sometimes warm to touch)
  • Loss of joint function

Acute inflammation causes noticeable symptoms including pain, swelling, etc. while symptoms of chronic inflammation are mild and can be misidentified as flu-like symptoms. Some chronic inflammation specific symptoms include:
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Fever and headaches
  • Chest and abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle stiffness

These symptoms can range from mild to severe and can persist for months or even years.

Inflammation Treatment and Diagnosis

Inflammatory diseases are diagnosed with the help of proper and careful evaluation of the following:

Though inflammation can persist for a long time, it can be treated under medical consultancy with anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids and supplements. Since a variety of foods possess anti-inflammatory properties with antioxidants and polyphenols, the choice of food and dietary changes can significantly control complications caused by inflammation.  
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