We’ve all gotten a cut somewhere on our body before and noticed how the skin swelled up. Or maybe we tweaked our knee or got a nasty case of strep throat – inflammation is the culprit behind all these different scenarios and more!
If inflammation is something that occurs on an everyday basis, why is it such a big deal then? In this blog post we want to give you a crash course on “inflammation 101.” We want to discuss the following:
- The difference between acute and chronic inflammation
- What causes inflammation in the body
- Treatments and natural remedies for this condition
We believe having a firm grasp on inflammation can lead to a path of a healthier more fulfilling lifestyle. Having a basic understanding of what inflammation is and how to combat it will do just the trick!
So what exactly is inflammation?
A good place to start is a basic definition of inflammation. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines inflammation as: “a local response to cellular injury that is marked by capillary dilatation, leukocytic infiltration, redness, heat, and pain and that serves as a mechanism initiating the elimination of noxious agents and of damaged tissue.” In layman’s terms, inflammation kind of acts as a shield against damaged cells, infections, viruses, bacteria and so on. If inflammation didn’t occur when any of these “threats” were present then wounds would become very infected and dangerous.
There are two different degrees of inflammation: acute and chronic.
Acute inflammation is more the “shield” we just explained that inflammation acts as in the body. It happens quickly and generally fades away after a few days. A common example of acute inflammation would be when you twist your ankle, it will swell for a few days to protect the tissues in your ankle. The following are common symptoms of acute inflammation:
- Heat (warm to touch)
But lets say you twist your ankle and the swelling doesn’t go away after a few days. If inflammation persists for longer than a few days, it can be considered as chronic. It can last for months or even years from failing to resolve the problem at the wound site. Chronic inflammation causes more harm than it does benefit unlike acute inflammation. The following are common symptoms to chronic inflammation:
- Chest pain
- Abdominal pain
- Mouth sores
- Joint pain
What causes inflammation?
There are several factors in what causes both acute and chronic inflammation to occur. Common examples include food allergies, stress, sedentary lifestyle, and poor diet. Some of the following examples can be the cause for chronic inflammation in the body.
What is CYLD? It’s a protein in the body that essentially acts as a break to inflammation in the body. If these proteins are malfunction, basically that “break” isn’t working taking the acute inflammation to chronic.
Did you know being overweight can be considered a form of low-grade chronic inflammation? When there are extra fatty tissues in the body there are more inflammatory cytokines produced.
Simply put: the more stressed you are, the more at risk you are to chronic inflammation. There is a potential link between depression and increased blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), which can lead to an increase in response to inflammation.
There are many reasons why having a balanced gut bacteria is important, but one of those reasons being imbalanced gut bacteria can lead to inflammation that is often the culprit behind conditions such as IBS.
Believe it or not, pollution levels in your community can affect inflammation in the body. Different studies show correlations between exposure to air pollution and higher levels of inflammation-related substances in the body including CRP and IL-6.
Illness and disease
This can look different between acute and chronic inflammation. The following illnesses and conditions results in acute inflammation:
- Skin wounds (i.e. cuts, scratches)
- Infected ingrown toenails
- Sore throat from a cold or flu
- Acute bronchitis
- Physical trauma to the body
Theses conditions look far more long-term and severe with dealing with chronic inflammation, such as the following illnesses and diseases:
- Heart disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Chronic peptic ulcer
- Multiple sclerosis
- Ulcerative colitis
- Crohn’s disease
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Active hepatitis
Food and diet
It’s no surprise that having an unhealthy diet can contribute to inflammation. Beware of the following food and food additives in your diet:
- Sugar (sucrose and fructose)
- Trans fat (fast food, fried foods, margarine, frozen foods)
- High omega-6 oils (corn oil, sunflower oil, mayo, some salad dressings)
- Refined carbs / white flour (breads, rolls, cereals)
- MSG (Asian foods, fast food, deli meats, prepared soups)
- Aspartame (artificial sweeteners)
Treatments and natural remedies
It’s always at this point in a post like this where you may be thinking, okay I get it, inflammation can be a really bad thing and there are a lot of ways it can happen… how can I avoid this becoming a problem? Let us provide you with some solutions!
There are lots of common conventional treatments to inflammation if you’re currently battling this condition. Physicians may order bed-rest or surgery, but often over-the-counter medication can help with many acute causes of inflammation such as aspirin, naproxen and ibuprofen. If the inflammation is more severe for a simple over-the-counter remedy, then often different corticosteroid medications can be prescribed such as cortisone and prednisone. However it should be noted that there are often heavy side effects from taking a prescribed a corticosteroid.
4 Natural remedies to inflammation
Not everyone wants to deal with the pesky side effects that come with taking mediation. Here are 4 natural remedies to help with inflammation.
- Anti-inflammatory foods (i.e. veggies, fruits, water, beans, healthy fats, herbs and spices, protein, tea, veggie / fruit juices)
- Quercetin Rich Foods (i.e. red wine, apples, kale, blueberries, green tea)
- Anti-inflammatory supplements (i.e. omega-3s, turmeric, willow bark, bromelain)
- Healthy practices (i.e. exercising, prayer / meditation)
In summary: inflammation can be good, but only in moderation
The last thing we want is for you to read this post and become terrified any time your body swells in some sort of way. Remember that acute inflammation is your body reacting to negative bacteria, viruses, damaged cells in the body by protecting surrounding tissues. The only time you should be alarmed by inflammation is if it becomes chronic.
The most basic way to prevent chronic inflammation from happening in your body is by making sure your exercising regularly, consuming a healthy diet and making sure you see your physician if you’re concerned about any inflammation that may be occurring.
At Lisa’s Thermography and Wellness, we’re on your team when it comes to your health journey!