Inflammation affects millions of people in a number of ways.
Inflammation can be good for you, or bad for you. When one is dealing with an acute injury, such as a virus or a broken bone, it is good and necessary for healing. However, when inflammation goes on too long, inflammation can be very damaging to our bodies and mental function.
In fact, most chronic illnesses such as arthritis, diabetes, gout, Alzheimer’s disease and even cardiovascular disease are known to be the result of too much inflammation for too long. Inflammation is a big part of how chronic illnesses harm our bodies.
If you deal with chronic pain or illnesses, such as arthritis, chronic infections, fibromyalgia, gout, sciatica, back pain, knee pain, tendonitis, then it is almost certain that inflammation is a large part of your problem.
Types of Inflammation
There are two main types of inflammation, based on how long it lasts.
- Acute inflammation is in response to an external attack by a disease, an illness-causing microorganism or a physical injury to an area of the body. This inflammation occurs quickly and usually clears up within days. It is important to understand that this type of inflammation starts out as the body’s natural and healthy response to an injury.
- Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is a long-term inflammation that is damaging to our health, and causes loss of function.
The Inflammatory Process
The inflammatory process is complex and closely linked to how well a person’s immune system functions:
- When a person is injured physically, by an injury, an infection, irritant, or disease, signals are sent to a number of different molecules in a very specific sequence.
- When the molecules are activated, some of them go directly to the genes.
- The genes then begin the process of making cytokines, the “hormones of the immune system”.
- These cytokines then travel to the part(s) of the body that have been injured, resulting in inflammation, pain, discomfort, and loss of function.
- The cytokines dilate blood vessels, forcing fluids, proteins, white blood cells and red blood cells to go to the area of the body affected by the injury, illness or irritant.
- This results in pain or discomfort, reduced motion, warmth, redness, and swelling in a particular area, or even throughout one’s entire body.
- Although inflammation is part of the healing process for physical injuries and helps the human body to fend off disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites, or irritants, in chronic conditions the body’s inflammatory response is too much or doesn’t “turn off” when it should. This can result in unnecessary, long-term pain, discomfort and tissue damage, and as a result, a decreased quality of life.
- If the inflammation is throughout the body (as it is when one has an infection), it affects energy, brain function, motivation, and the ability to handle stress. It can even cause anxiety and sleep problems, depression, OCD and more.
How do you know if you have chronic inflammation?
Illnesses associated with chronic inflammation usually involve one or more of the following symptoms:
- Loss of function in part of the body
- Painful muscles and joints
- Nerve pain
- Generalized pain that moves around
- Limitation of movement
- Sleep problems
Chronic Inflammation-based illnesses and other medical conditions, include:
- Autoimmune diseases (such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis)
- Chronic pain due to fractures and post surgical healing
- Hip dysplasia
- Joint injuries (including ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, elbow, or wrist)
- IgG-delayed food sensitivities
- Chronic infections such as Lyme disease or other tick-borne diseases
- Neck injuries
- Post-surgical pain from artificial joints and rods/pins
- Tennis elbow
- Drug-induced acne
Physical and mental effects of inflammation
When chronic inflammation is left to fester, it has been shown to take its toll on the body in various ways. Inappropriate inflammation over a long period of time can lead to the damage or destruction of tissue.
Additional physical problems associated with chronic inflammation include an increased risk of:
- Heart attack
- Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia
- Parkinson’s disease
- Certain cancers
Mental issues resulting from chronic inflammation can include:
- A feeling of being “stressed out”
- Impulsive behavior with a lack of self-direction and problem solving, including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Short term memory loss