Inflammation happens when your immune system responds to a foreign matter. The inflammatory response is designed to attack invading pathogens to protect you from getting ill.
The process is responsible for increasing blood flow to any damaged area of your body to begin the healing process. Sometimes, inflammation lingers and lasts longer than is needed, and over time chronic inflammation can begin to damage tissues and organs that it once protected.
The symptoms of acute inflammation include pain, redness, and swelling, so they are more obvious. The symptoms of chronic inflammation are more subtle and easily overlooked.
Common symptoms of chronic inflammation include:
♦ Abdominal pain
♦ Chest pain
♦ Mouth sores
There are a number of things that can cause chronic inflammation.
♦ Untreated cases of acute inflammation, such as injury
♦ An autoimmune disorder
♦ Long term exposure to irritants
These may not be the cause for chronic inflammation in everyone, and sometimes there is no identifiable cause at all. There are also factors that contribute to or worsen chronic inflammation such as:
♦ Alcohol consumption
♦ Chronic stress
Diseases that are commonly associated with chronic inflammation, include:
♦ Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition affecting the joints with inflammation, causing pain, swelling, and immobility.
♦ Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks healthy organs with inflammation. It can affect your kidneys, brain, blood cells, lungs, and heart.
♦ Inflammatory bowel disease is a chronic inflammation of your intestines. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are the most common, and each affects different parts of the intestinal tract.
♦ Psoriasis is a condition characterized by inflamed skin, causing rough and itchy patches. It is thought to be an immune system problem because of the uncontrolled inflammation. It is common for joints to become affected by chronic inflammatory responses, and this can sometimes cause a condition known as psoriatic arthritis.
♦ Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease characterized by chronic inflammation of the pancreatic cells that produce insulin. If not controlled and treated, the inflammation and high blood sugar levels can impair organs, nerve cells, and vision.
♦ Type 2 diabetes develops when your body becomes insensitive to insulin, and it causes inflammation.
♦ Heart disease is commonly linked to chronic inflammation. Those with heart disease and individuals who have had a stroke have higher levels of inflammatory chemicals in their blood.
♦ Cancer can be caused by chronic inflammation. The inflammatory chemicals overtime damage DNA, which leads to the development of cancer cells.
♦ Obesity and excess weight contributes to fat storage around the body. These fat cells release compounds that trigger the release of inflammatory chemicals.
♦ Asthma is a chronic disease that causes your airways to become inflamed, making it difficult to breathe. Inflammation is often chronic in those with asthma and in circumstances where inflammation increases, asthma attacks can be more severe.
Chronic inflammation impacts every part of your body, and when untreated, it can cause serious damage. It is not beneficial, like its acute counterpart.
Over time, an uncontrolled inflammatory response can damage healthy cells, tissues, and organs leading to DNA damage, tissue death, and internal organ scarring. When this happens, your overall health is at serious risk.
♦ Brain: Pro-inflammatory chemicals damage tissues and brain cells contributing to mental health issues as well as neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.
♦ Heart: Inflammation in the heart and blood vessels increases your risk for heart disease and stroke.
♦ Kidneys: Inflammation in the kidneys can cause hypertension as well as kidney failure.
♦ Lungs: Chronic inflammation of lung tissue can cause you to develop respiratory issues such as asthma and allergies.
♦ Digestion: Inflamed digestive tracts increase your risk for autoimmune diseases like Celiac disease and other digestive issues like GERD.
♦ Cancer: Chronic inflammation changes DNA which can alter cell production, causing cancer in any part of the body affected by the inflammation.
In order to reduce your risk of any long-term internal damage, chronic inflammation needs to be treated. When there is an underlying cause such as an autoimmune disease, the disease needs to be treated first. Inflammation can be treated with several different options.
♦ NSAIDs can help reduce inflammation, but long-term use can increase your risk for kidney disease or peptic ulcers.
♦ Steroids suppress the immune system, which reduces inflammation, and this treatment is effective in preventing attacks on healthy tissue.
♦ Lipoic acid supplements have been found to contain anti-inflammatory compounds that can reduce inflammation naturally.
There is a significant connection between digestive health and the immune system. The bacteria living in your gut make up a large portion of your immune system. When this bacterial community is unbalanced, inflammation can spread, and your risk for disease increases.
You can reduce chronic inflammation by incorporating beneficial probiotics in your diet.
Probiotics naturally support gut health and boost your immunity.
♦ Lactobacillus acidophilus benefits the health of your gut by producing lactic acid while it digests food. Lactic acid inhibits the colonization of harmful bacteria in the gut. This bacteria also reduce gut inflammation and enhances immunity.
♦ Lactobacillus rhamnosus has an infinity for the mucosal cells that line the gut, allowing it to colonize there. It protects the lining of your gut by preventing harmful strains from colonizing there. L. rhamnosus also reduces inflammation, promoting a healthy gut balance.
To get the most benefits from these probiotics, you should also take NutraFlora prebiotic fiber. Prebiotics provide the nourishment that probiotics need to thrive. They also deliver support directly to your immune system by way of reducing inflammation.
In addition to medications, the diet you eat has a major impact on inflammation. There are foods known to trigger and worsen inflammation, such as fried and processed foods, foods high in fat or sugar, refined carbohydrates, alcohol, spicy foods, and any foods you have an allergy to.
There are also foods that contain beneficial anti-inflammatory compounds that you should eat more of, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, leafy greens, and fatty fish. Omega-3 supplements, as well as turmeric, are also known to help fight inflammation.
As necessary as inflammation is in fighting infections, chronic inflammation is dangerous. It increases your risk for serious disease, and without treatment, it can reduce your quality of life.
Chronic inflammation can be caused by a number of factors, and in many cases, an underlying condition or disease is the cause. Treating the cause can help reduce inflammation, and you can also successfully reduce inflammation with medications and diet changes.
Controlling inflammation is the only way to protect your health, and it is easier than you may think.