March 04 2021
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is your body’s natural way of protecting it from harmful substances, infections, injuries, or disease. If it weren’t for inflammation, you wouldn’t be able to heal the same way. However, when your system is affected by autoimmune diseases for example arthritis, sclerosis, etc, your immune system starts attacking all the healthy cells in your body.
What are the types of inflammation?
Inflammation can be divided into two types: Acute and Chronic
Acute Inflammation: Mostly caused by trauma, hazardous substances, microbial invasion (eg viruses and bacteria). It might be severe but it occurs over a short period. It stays for a few days however, it can stay for longer periods in more critical cases. Conditions that provoke or induce this kind of inflammation are Acute bronchitis, Tonsillitis, appendicitis, cut or scratch on the skin, infected toenail, trauma or injury, meningitis, or sinusitis.
Chronic inflammation: This kind of inflammation lasts for months or years and takes time to cure. It is usually caused by an autoimmune disorder where the body’s immune system starts attacking the healthy cells and tissues. This kind of inflammation is rather dangerous because it leads the immune system into thinking that they’re diseased. The causes of which are said to be low exposure to irritants or hazardous substances, not treating an acute inflammation for years such as an infection or illness. With time DNA damage, internal scarring and tissue death occur. Some of the diseases caused due to this are inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis, sclerosis, Hashimoto thyroiditis, Periodontitis, cancer, etc.
Also, foods like carbohydrates, sugar, processed meat, trans fat, alcohol, etc are said to worsen inflammation for people who are diagnosed with autoimmune disorders.
Most common symptoms of inflammation
- Swelling due to fluid buildup
- Redness, because the blood vessels underneath have more blood filled up than usual
- Some loss of function in the area that is affected
- Joint pain
- Mouth sores
- Abdominal pain
- Gastrointestinal problems like diarrhoea, acid reflux, constipation, etc.
- Chest pain
- Muscle pain
Can it affect other organs?
It can. It can affect your internal organs as a result of autoimmune disorders. The symptoms will help you learn which part of it has been affected while others might not have any symptoms as many organs don’t have pain-sensitive nerves.
- Myocarditis or inflammation of your heart can cause shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, chest pain, and fluid buildup
- Kidney inflammation
- Shortness of breath resulting from inflammation of the bronchioles of your lungs
There are multiple ways of diagnosing inflammation. Based on your symptoms, your healthcare provider will recommend the most suitable one for making a diagnosis.
- Serum protein electrophoresis: It is the best way for confirming any chronic inflammation in your body. Certain proteins are measured in the liquid part of your blood for identifying any underlying diseases. Too much or too little of this protein in your blood serum indicates signs of inflammation and other diseases.
- CRP or C reactive protein: This protein is produced naturally by your liver as a response to inflammation. Higher amounts of this protein in your blood might indicate signs of inflammation. Although this test is easily susceptible to inflammation, it doesn’t help to differentiate between chronic and acute inflammation.
- Plasma viscosity: It works by measuring the thickness of your blood since any infection or inflammation will thicken the blood plasma and you will know if you are suffering from any chronic diseases.
Erythrocyte sedimentation rate or ESR: Also called a sedimentation rate test, this works by measuring the inflammation level by detecting the rate at which your red blood cells sink in a given test tube of blood. The faster they are said to sink, the more likely you are to experience inflammation.
Treatments and medication
NSAIDs or Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Over the counter drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen can combat your inflammation and pain. However, not using the proper dosage might result in other severe consequences like ulcers, kidney disorders, and many other complications.
Steroids: Corticosteroid, a steroid hormone helps in decreasing inflammation and suppressing the immune system when it starts damaging healthy tissues or cells. Using according to prescription is advised; improper dosage might result in elevated blood pressure, osteoporosis, vision problems, etc.
Creams and topical analgesics: Used for treating chronic or acute physical pain. They are said to have lesser side effects than oral alternatives. Some contain NSAIDs in their composition among other substances which help with pain effective for a specific part of your body. Ask your doctor for the most effective topical analgesic that will suit you the most.
Foods to avoid that might increase your inflammation
- White bread and refined carbohydrates
- Fried foods
- Processed food items
- Saturated and translate fats
- Gluten or casein rich foods
- Sugar or high fructose corn syrup
- Food rich in MSG
Sometimes, treating inflammation can be as simple as altering your food habits only. The things to clean up from your diet are sugar, processed foods, trans fat, etc.
- Some anti-inflammatory foods to include in your diet are Green tea, Broccoli, Avocados, nuts, olive oil, Mushroom, Spices like ginger, clove, turmeric, Tomatoes, Berries, and cherries.
- Some other home remedies that might help are taking good supplements which are easily available in the market. Fish oil, salmon oil, curcumin, and lipoic acid-based supplements help in decreasing inflammation and reducing the chances of other diseases like heart diseases, cancer, etc. The most commonly used supplements are Alvizia’s Salmon fish oil and Milk thistle which provide other health benefits that help in reducing inflammation.
- Working out daily or doing exercises
- Quit smoking permanently
- Reducing your stress levels or anxiety
- Using hot and cold therapy for reducing any discomfort or physical injury
The final word
Chronic inflammation is more fatal than acute inflammation and it increases your chances of becoming prone to serious diseases. Maintaining a proper diet, medications, supplements, and avoiding smoking and alcohol will help you in maintaining a proper body and reduce your risks of harmful diseases.