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Inflammation 101: Types, Causes, Symptoms & Prevention

Sep 21, 2021

Inflammation 101: Types, Causes, Symptoms & Prevention

Our bodies have an innate ability to fight disease, or at least warn us when foreign agents are attacking our internal organs. As the body's major weapon in maintaining structural integrity and function, inflammation plays a vital role. While its primary objective is to protect the body, inflammation can sometimes wreak havoc on it. This guide walks you through the causes and signs of inflammation, and the different ways to prevent it as well.

What is Inflammation?

Inflammation naturally occurs when the body responds to an injury, infection or illness. It produces white blood cells and other chemical substances that travel through blood vessels and increase blood flow to the affected areas to protect the body and restore its functionality. However, there are instances when the body can trigger inflammation even in the absence of foreign agents. This is very common in autoimmune diseases, where the immune system treats unharmful tissues as threats to the body and attacks them. As a result, the body experiences a multitude of unpleasant and painful symptoms.

What are the Different Types of Inflammation?

Just like everything else in this world, inflammation has both a good and an ugly side. A good inflammatory response supports the body's natural healing process, while a bad one triggers chronic inflammatory diseases that last for years or even permanently. Below we go over each type of immune response in more detail.

Acute Inflammation

This inflammatory process alerts the body to foreign invaders, which works to heal injuries or protect the body from disease-causing bacteria and viruses. It is temporary by nature and subsides once the body has healed. A sore throat or chest pain caused by the common cold, or swelling and redness on the skin caused by dermatitis, are common symptoms of acute inflammation. 

Chronic Inflammation

Chronic inflammation occurs when the body's immune cells mistake healthy tissues for the enemy and attack them on end. There is an association between this prolonged inflammation and chronic diseases like heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease like ulcerative colitis, to name a few.  

What Causes Inflammation?

Inflammation is caused by several factors, including penetration of viruses and other pathogens into the body and physical trauma, such as cuts or lesions. Additionally, exposure to toxic chemicals and a range of medical conditions can also trigger chronic or acute inflammation. A healthy body should not have any trouble handling an inflammatory disease as it has built-in healing abilities, but if it finds itself unable to do so, that may indicate an underlying condition that affects the white blood cells' function.

What are the Classic Signs of Inflammation?

Inflammatory conditions are easy to spot as they come with clear telltale signs. Regardless of what caused them, they would present with the following symptoms:

  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Heat
  • Loss of function

In an effort to fight off outside forces, the body releases white blood cells to stimulate nerves and tissues. This rapid accumulation of white blood cells may sometimes lead to the formation of pus. It's important to know, however, that inflammation does not always manifest itself with these common symptoms. There are times when it appears as short-term joint pain or unintentional weight loss. That said, you have to seek professional help from your primary care provider immediately so that they can help you address the issue with the appropriate treatment plan. 

How Can Inflammation be Prevented?

Besides providing recommendations for maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle, a qualified health care professional can recommend effective treatments for chronic inflammation in order to help you get your life and health back on track. Acute inflammation usually lasts for a few hours or days, so it's not something you should worry about. However, if your body exhibits chronic inflammation symptoms, you need to give it extra attention and care. Here are some surefire ways to reduce inflammation:

Consider anti-inflammatory foods in your diet such as fatty fish, green leafy vegetables, olive oil, tomatoes and other lycopene-rich foods.

  • Exercise daily
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Get enough sleep
  • Don't stress yourself out
  • Meditate to maintain mind and body connection
  • Keep a positive outlook on life

Also, your certified nutritionist or dietitian can assist you in creating an anti-inflammatory diet that will increase your chance of recovering quickly after an inflammatory episode. You can reach out to a practitioner in your area through the Natural Therapy Pages.

FAQs About Inflammation

What are the worst foods for inflammation?

Inflammation has been linked to highly processed foods containing refined sugar and carbohydrates. As well as trans fats, diets with high sodium levels are also discouraged since these can worsen inflammation.

Are eggs inflammatory?

It depends on who eats the eggs. Eggs affect people differently depending on their health state. Many health professionals associate eggs with inflammation in people who present symptoms of inflammation after ingesting them.

What vitamin helps with inflammation?

Vitamins B, C, D and E play a crucial role in fighting inflammatory diseases. As natural antioxidants, they protect your cells from oxidative damage resulting from free radicals.

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From the NTP Practitioners,  Autoimmune Disease,  Arthritis,  Nutrition,  Dieting

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