Most people think aging is beyond our control, but I want you to think in a different way than most individuals do. After reading, you will have an understanding of both types of inflammation (acute and chronic) and symptoms, how the body responds to it, and what happens when you have it. Start becoming aware of how you can distinguish between them and begin your journey to extinguishing the flames inflammation can ignite.
What Is Inflammation?
“A localized physical condition in which part of the body becomes reddened, swollen, hot and often painful, especially as a reaction to injury or infection.”
Inflammation is not inherently bad. In fact, we actually need it! Acute inflammation is the body’s natural response to protect itself from infection and heal. When the body’s inflammatory response is prolonged, it can lead to chronic inflammation, which is a sign that the immune system is stuck in overdrive. When it functions properly, inflammation is a quick natural response designed to help the body heal itself. When it doesn’t, it boils to chronic levels, which in most commonly result in a wide range of complications; including heart disease, migraines, cancer, diabetes, dementia, and depression. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) top 10 causes of mortality have been linked to chronic inflammation.
The Difference Between Acute and Chronic Inflammation
Acute Inflammation is the initial response of the body to harmful stimuli and is achieved by the increased movement of plasma and leukocytes from the blood into the injured tissues. If you have an injury or infection, inflammation is necessary to help heal and protect your body. This happens through a series of biochemical reactions, white blood cells and other chemicals are sent to the injured area to fight off foreign bodies. You have experienced this type of beneficial acute inflammation if you’ve had a cut or infection, and the symptoms typically include:
Pain: The inflamed area is likely to be painful, especially during and after touching. Chemicals that stimulate nerve endings are released, making the area more sensitive.
Swelling: This is caused by a buildup of fluid.
Loss of movement and function: There may be some loss of function in the region of the inflammation.
Warmth/Heat: More blood flows to the affected area, and this makes it feel warm to the touch.
Redness: This occurs because the capillaries in the area are filled with more blood than usual.
When this becomes chronic, however, there are often no symptoms until a loss of function occurs. This is because inflammation is low-grade and systemic (throughout the entire body) often silently damaging your tissues. This is what personally happened to me and went on for months and years without noticing. For others, this process can lead to diseases such as heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, M.S., and Crohn's disease develops.
Three main processes occur before and during acute inflammation:
The small branches of arteries enlarge when supplying blood to the damaged region, resulting in increased blood flow.
Capillaries become easier for fluids and proteins to infiltrate, meaning that they can move between blood and cells.
The body releases neutrophils. A neutrophil is a type of white blood cell filled with tiny sacs that contain enzymes and digest microorganisms.
A person will notice inflammation symptoms after these steps take place.
What Causes Chronic Inflammation?
Chronic inflammation can be a result of a malfunctioning, over-reactive immune system, or it may be due to an underlying problem that your body is attempting to fight off. From experience, DO NOT ignore these symptoms and start asking yourself what in the environment (both internal & external) can be causing it. Simply most of these problems are actually due to an unhealthy lifestyle. The following can increase your risk of furthering the issue of chronic inflammation from symptoms such as:
Sometimes chronic inflammation is silent and the symptoms are not existent until a serious issue arises. It can eventually cause several ‘dis-eases’ and conditions including some cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, periodontitis, and hayfever. If you have any of these signs, here's the good news: You can start taking control of them A.S.A.P by changing your lifestyle.
It does often hurt when people have inflammation. Usually, you will feel pain, stiffness, discomfort, distress, and even agony, depending on the severity of the inflammation. They type of pain varies and can be described as constant and steady, throbbing, pulsating, stabbing, or pinching. Save this chart to always have a reminder of the different symptoms of inflammation.
The Body’s General Response
If the inflammation is severe, it may cause general reactions in the body. This may include the following signs and symptoms:
Changes in the blood such as an increased number of defense cells
General symptoms of feeling sick, exhausted, and fever. These symptoms are a sign that the immune defense is very active and needs a ton of energy, which may be lacking in other activities. If the rate of metabolism is higher due to a fever, more defense substances and cells can be produced.