What is inflammation?

In recent years, Inflammation has gotten a bad reputation. It’s known to cause many ailments and anti-inflammatory foods and products are flying off the shelves. What exactly is inflammation? What’s it for and when does it become problematic? Is inflammation something you should be worried about? This essay summarizes an article published by Medical News Today (MNT). It will give you an overview of the purpose of inflammation and problematic inflammatory conditions. 

MNT says inflammation is “the body's attempt at self-protection; the aim being to remove harmful stimuli, including damaged cells, irritants, or pathogens - and begin the healing process.” Inflammation is the bodies complex response to heal itself from injury or abnormal physical, chemical or biological substances that cause infection. Inflammation is an immune response, one that is often beneficial. Wounds and infections would never heal without inflammation. A sprained ankle becomes inflamed when the tissues need extra protection. It is common for mothers and health practitioners to immediately try to decrease inflammation but according to MNT, “inflammation is an essential part of the body's attempt to heal itself, patients and doctors need to be sure that the treatments to reduce swelling are absolutely necessary and to not undermine or slow down the healing process.”
Signs of inflammation are: redness, calor, heat, swelling, pain, and inhibited or lost function. All or none of these signs may be present during inflammation. Sometimes inflammation is self-perpetuating and can become chronic. Chronic inflammation is frequently problematic to ones overall health and wellbeing. For example, it can cause some cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, and hay fever.
Why does inflammation cause pain?
Inflammation causes pain, stiffness, discomfort, and occasionally agony. The level of pain is contingent on the severity of the inflammation. Pain is a result of the swelling, which pushes against nerve endings that send pain signals to the brain. These signals can be sent continuously throughout the day, however the brain will frequently ignore them when that are sent over an extended period of time.
Chronic inflammation versus acute inflammation
Acute inflammation occurs for a few days or occasionally a few weeks. Examples of conditions that cause acute inflammation are: acute bronchitis, an infected ingrown toenail, sore throat from a cold, a scratch on the skin. acute appendicitis, among many other conditions.
Chronic inflammation can occur for months or years. Chronic inflammation can result from the bodies inability to remove what caused acute inflammation, an autoimmune response or disease, or a chronic and persistent irritant. Asthma, tuberculosis, chronic peptic ulcer, Rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, and chronic sinusitis are examples of chronic inflammation. There are many more examples of chronic inflammation.
The link between inflammation and autoimmune disorders
An autoimmune disorder happens when the immune system responds to healthy tissues because it has mistaken them for being harmful. When the immune system is triggered, an inflammatory response is initiated as well.
Of the hundreds of autoimmune diseases, almost all have inflammation as a sign. For example, in celiac disease, inflammation happens when the inner lining of the small intestine is destroyed. Allergies cause inflammation of the nose, ears, and throat mucous membranes. Anaphylaxis is a serious condition when inflammation affects the entire body.
According to an article published by US News, poor health habits are linked to an increase in inflammation throughout the body. Research is still forthcoming, and established, clear cut links have yet to be defined. It is clear however, is that poor health habits lead to an increase in inflammation. This is problematic because chronic inflammation leads to diabetes, depression, heart disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases. Hidden and chronic inflammation occurs when the immune system is triggered to become inflamed in order to heal itself, yet doesn’t ever stop the inflammation from continuing indefinitely. Smoking, obesity, infections, can all kick start inflammation that becomes hidden and chronic. This can result in the steady stream of immune cells that interfere with healthy tissues and “triggering genetic mutations that can lead to cancer or the bursting of plaque in an artery wall.”
What are the possible treatments for inflammation?
According to MNT, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen, stop inflammation induced pain because they inhibit inflammation. Acetaminophen (paracetamol, Tylenol) do not prevent inflammation but can reduce pain associated with inflammatory conditions. These are acceptable to use for acute inflammation but are not advisable to treat chronic inflammation due to adverse health effects of these drugs when used long term.
Herbs also have anti-inflammatory properties that can be beneficial. Ginger, has been found to reduce the markers of colon inflammation according to researchers from the Michigan Medical School. Research is on going about the anti-inflammatory effects of Turmeric, to treat arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, and some other inflammatory conditions. Something as simple as ice can reduce inflammation. Ohio State University Center for Clinical and Translational Science reported that the daily consumption of fish oil, omega-3 was able to reduced anxiety and inflammation and anxiety in healthy young people. Green tea has been shown to reduce inflammation in postmenopausal women, according to the Laura W. Bush Institute.
The article published by US News also highlighted the need for a healthy diet and a healthy waist measurement. A 35 inch waistline for women and 40 inch waistline for men or higher is indicative of excess inflammation. High blood pressure, high levels of blood glucose, and higher levels of trigycerides, are also signs of hidden and chronic inflammation. The article states. “according to the American Heart Association, these all point to an inflammatory condition called metabolic syndrome, a common precursor of diabetes and heart disease. The best way to reduce belly fat? Eat less and move more.”
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