These days we hear so much about inflammation. Avoid it, reduce it, don’t do things that inflame your body and your mind. But, what exactly is inflammation; what are the different types of inflammation is it truly harmful to our health, and if so, why is it so harmful?
Very simply put, inflammation is the body’s reaction to infection or tissue damage. Our bodies respond the invader to send agents to the offended/damaged site in an effort to eliminate the problem and to heal your body.
Inflammation in its true and intended form is a good thing; in fact, it is a protective mechanism designed to protect you and save your life! Its job is to heal the affected tissues and restore your body to a healthy state.
There are several causes of inflammation. They include biological causes like viruses, bacteria and fungal organisms as well as chemical causes including poisons and toxins. Physical trauma can also trigger inflammation; a bruise, broken bone or even a splinter can trigger an inflammatory response. Finally, immune reactions such as those manifested in autoimmune diseases can trigger inflammation. In this case, these reactions occur more commonly in a state of chronic inflammation than in acute inflammation.
What exactly are they, and what’s the difference between them?
Acute inflammation is a rapid host response that serves to deliver leukocytes and plasma proteins, such as antibodies, to sites of infection or tissue injury.” (Robbins Basic Pathology). The response to acute inflammation can occur as quickly as within minutes and may only last a few days. As in the case of a physical trauma, symptoms include but are not limited to redness, swelling, pain and fever.
When tissue damage or infection occurs, the body’s immune system recognizes the presence of foreign invaders or damaged cells and initiates an acute inflammatory response. This response is triggered by various immune cells, particularly the previously mentioned white blood cells called leukocytes, which are responsible for combating infection and promoting tissue repair.
The goal of an acute inflammatory response is to heal the affected area, limiting tissue damage and restoring your general health.
The acute inflammatory response is a crucial defense mechanism of your immune system that occurs in response to tissue injury or infection. In it’s perfect and intended form, is characterized by a rapid onset, short duration, and specific localized signs and symptoms.
The acute inflammatory response involves several key steps:
Vasodilation: Blood vessels near the site of injury or infection dilate and allow increased blood flow to the area. This leads to that redness and warmth at the site of inflammation; for example, when your sprain your ankle.
Increased vascular permeability: Blood vessels become more permeable, allowing plasma proteins and fluid to leak out of the bloodstream and into your surrounding tissue. This results in swelling or edema; again, think again about that sprained ankle.
Migration of leukocytes: White blood cells, primarily neutrophils, are recruited to the site of inflammation. They migrate out of the blood vessels and into the tissue, guided by chemical signals released by injured cells or immune cells.
Phagocytosis: Neutrophils and other phagocytic cells engulf and destroy bacteria, debris, and other foreign substances present at the site of inflammation. This process helps to eliminate the source of infection or repair damaged tissue.
Tissue repair: Following the removal of the injurious agent, your body initiates the healing process. Specialized cells, such as fibroblasts, produce new collagen fibers to rebuild and strengthen your damaged tissue.
The acute inflammatory response typically resolves within a few days, although the exact duration may vary depending on the extent and nature of your injury or infection. It’s generally a self-limiting process, and once the threat has been neutralized, the inflammation subsides, and tissue repair ensues. This is the desired progression of the inflammatory response.
While acute inflammation is a beneficial response necessary for healing and protection, if it persists or becomes chronic, it can lead to tissue damage and contribute to various diseases. Therefore, it is essential for the inflammatory response to be monitored, tightly regulated and appropriately controlled.
“Chronic inflammation is inflammation of prolonged duration (weeks or months) in which inflammation, tissue injury and attempts at repair co-exist, in varying combinations.” (Robbins Basic Pathology) Current research studies have pointed to chronic inflammation as the root cause of chronic diseases and premature aging. These chronic diseases include diabetes, obesity (which is now considered a disease), arthritis, cancer, depression, autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, neurological, degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease. Chronic inflammation is, as the name suggests, ongoing. It does not show up, accomplish its appointed task and then dissipate. It is with us “chronically”.
The challenge here is to determine whether your body is a victim of chronic inflammation or not. One of the best ways to determine your individual level of inflammation is to ask your doctor to include in your blood work a test known as C-reactive protein or CRP. This test gives you a baseline of the measure of inflammation that currently exists in your body. CRP is produced in the liver, and testing the blood is how the level of inflammation is measured.
Your goal should be to have your CRP level to be less than 1.0 mg/L which indicates your body is in a low state of inflammation. If your test result is greater than 1.0 mg/L, your body’s inflammation levels are higher than they should be, and then, for example, you are at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease as well as other chronic ailments.
To summarize, of the two different types of inflammation, acute inflammation is your body’s friend. It is triggered when there is some sort of injury whether it’s physical, bacterial, etc. Acute inflammation gets in, gets the job done and gets out. The nasty part of inflammation is chronic inflammation which is ongoing and which leaves us vulnerable to a whole host of disease and discomfort if we do not take steps to reduce that inflammation.
Helping You Achieve Major Wellness in Your Life!
Cheryl A Major, CNWC
I’m author, health guru, and entrepreneur Cheryl A Major, and I would love to connect with you. If you’re new to the world of creating a healthier menu and wellness plan for yourself, please check out my signature program The Anti-Diet Solution. Learn how to lose weight without dieting. You may lose a whole lot more…like depression, which is exactly what happened to me!
Be sure to follow me on Twitter so you won’t miss my daily postings for health, wellness and mindset, and please Like and Subscribe to my YouTube channel where I post short informational health videos that are easy to consume!
I am not a medical doctor, and the views and opinions expressed in this book are not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice and counsel. They are based on my own training and experience. You should always consult with your doctor and seek the advice and counsel of your health care provider before making any changes including changes to how you eat and changes regarding any vitamins and/or supplements you may take.
Some of the links I share are affiliate links which means I may receive a small commission. This does not affect what you will pay, and I only share what I have used or believe to be of the highest quality and value.