What is Inflammation?

Inflammation is a natural defense mechanism of the body that is beneficial in some cases, but also has the potential to cause illness and disease. It is an immune response to injuries of any kind, including disease or infection. The body responds to this injury or infection by releasing different kinds of chemicals, called cytokines. Cytokines cause the blood vessels in the area of injury to become leaky. This increased blood flow allows for more cells to enter the injured area, which can help promote healing.

Causes of Inflammation

Inflammation can be triggered by different forms of stress, including physical, chemical, and biological. It can also be caused by an allergic reaction, infection, or injury. stress-associated diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and asthma are also known to cause inflammation. Stress hormones, and other substances produced in response to stress, can increase inflammation.

Signs and Symptoms of Inflammation

The primary sign of inflammation is redness, heat, and swelling. Other common symptoms include pain, loss of function, stiffness, fatigue, and a feeling of tightness. In some cases, there may also be itching, burning, or tingling.

Types of Inflammation

There are two distinct types of inflammation, acute and chronic. Acute inflammation occurs suddenly and lasts for a short period of time. Signs and symptoms can include pain, swelling, redness, heat, and loss of function. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, persists for a longer period of time, and can lead to tissue damage and organ dysfunction.

Complications of Inflammation

Inflammation can cause a variety of health problems if left untreated, some of which can be serious. These include:

  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Obesity
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Stroke

Treatment of Inflammation

Treatment of inflammation depends on the type and cause of inflammation. For acute inflammation, rest, hot and cold compresses, and over-the-counter medications may be used. For chronic inflammation, lifestyle and diet changes, and prescription medications may be necessary. In some cases, surgery may be required.