Inflammation: What it is and How does it Affect My Health?
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to protect itself against harm. It is the body’s attempt to heal itself after an injury; defend itself against foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria; and repair damaged tissue.
Inflammation is often characterized by redness, swelling, warmth, and sometimes pain and perhaps some immobility. When you stub your toe, for example, biochemical processes release proteins called cytokines that bring in your body’s immune cells, hormones and nutrients to fix the problem. All this trigger swelling, pain and fever as part of the healing process.
There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic.
Acute inflammation occurs when you bang your knee or cut your finger. Your immune system dispatches an army of white blood cells to surround and protect the area, creating visible redness and swelling. The process works similarly if you have an infection like the flu or pneumonia. So, in these settings, inflammation is essential—without it, injuries could fester and simple infections could be deadly.
An acute inflammation begins rapidly and gets severe within a short period of time. A person may experience the symptoms and signs for some days, in some cases, the symptoms may persist for several weeks.
Below are some conditions, and diseases that result in acute inflammation:
- Acute bronchitis
- A sore throat
- Acute appendicitis
- Infective meningitis
Chronic inflammation is long-term and occurs in “wear and tear” conditions, including osteoarthritis, and autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, allergies, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease and Crohn’s disease.
Chronic inflammation (long-term inflammation) last for many months and years. Chronic inflammation results from:
- Autoimmune disorder that attacks healthy body tissue
- Prolonged exposure to irritants like industrial chemical
- Habitual factors like excess weight, poor diet, lack of exercise, stress, smoking, pollution, poor oral health and excessive alcohol consumption
The following are of conditions and diseases that cause chronic inflammation:
- Chronic peptic ulcer
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Ulcerative colitis
- Active hepatitis
- Crohn’s disease
While it is impossible for damaged tissue to heal without inflammation, chronic inflammation is still a condition that causes disease like cancers, atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hay fever, and periodontitis.
Common treatments options
There are several treatment options for inflammation, which includes medications, exercise, and rest. The treatment option depends on different factors such as
- The type of inflammation
- Age of the patient
- The overall health of the patient
- Medical history and how severe the symptoms are.
There are diverse drugs that reduce inflammation, joint pain, and swelling. The drugs are commonly used as a result of their varying effects.
- NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) – naproxen, ibuprofen, or aspirin
- Corticosteroids such as prednisone and cortisol prevent different mechanisms that cause inflammation. Corticosteroids are divided into two sets
Glucocorticoids: These Corticosteroids are prescribed for different conditions such as Arthritis, Dermatitis, Temporal arteritis, Systemic lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, hepatitis, allergic reactions, sarcoidosis, asthma, and others.
Ointments and creams are also used to treat inflammation of the eyes, skin, lungs, nose, and bowels.
Mineralocorticoid: The Corticosteroids treats cerebral salt wasting (CSW), and replaces vital hormones for patients with an adrenal insufficiency condition.
- Antimalarial medications like hydroxychloroquine
- Oral drugs otherwise called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs – DMARDs including cyclophosphamide, sulfasalazine, methotrexate, azathioprine, and leflunomide.
- Biologic drugs – etanercept, infliximab, adalimumab, golimumab, tocilizumab, certolizumab, abatacept, and rituximab
Herbs for inflammation
There are different herbs available which help prevent or reduce inflammation. Turmeric is safest and most effective of them.
Turmeric has an anti-inflammatory agent called curcumin (a yellow pigment). Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines make use of turmeric to reduce inflammation, treat wounds, digestive disorders, and infections.
Studies indicate that curcumin in turmeric may help prevent cancer. Powdered or Fresh turmeric is great in soups, curries, and other dishes.
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There are foods that can help fight inflammation, they include
- Almonds and Walnuts
- Olive oil
- Leafy greens (spinach and kale)
- Fatty fish like mackerel and salmon
- Fruit such as oranges and blueberries
While there are foods that help reduce inflammation, there are also foods that you should avoid because they aggravate inflammation. They include fried foods, sugary drinks, white bread, pastry, margarine, and ed meat.
These dietary foods do not control inflammation alone; the foods prepare the body’s immune system to function in a specific way. Before choosing a particular treatment plan or medication, make sure you consult your doctor.