You've probably watched an inflammatory response happen if you've sprained your ankle or finger. The joints swell and become large, warm, and tender.
This response is part of your body's natural healing process to repair and protect your injury.
But when this response constantly happens over a long period creating chronic inflammation in your body – you can start to have detrimental effects. Chronic inflammation is related to many chronic illnesses, making it worth investigating if you think you have it.
Today we're discussing inflammation and how chronic inflammation can cause several unwanted health concerns.
Your body activates your immune system when you have an injury or are exposed to a pathogen like a virus or bacterial infection. Part of your immune system's first response is to release inflammatory cells into the bloodstream to fight off infection or treat your injury.1
Not only are immune and inflammatory cells released in response to injury, but inflammatory mediators are activated, which further increase the inflammatory response. These mediators include cytokines, histamine, prostaglandins, and leukotrienes.2
These mediators are responsible for symptoms like itchy eyes and skin, sneezing and wheezing, and mucus buildup. You often see these symptoms when you have a viral infection or are exposed to allergens like dust or mold.
Many of these symptoms disappear once the infection is treated or the allergen is removed. But if you're constantly being exposed to them (or have chronic stress), your body starts existing in this low-level inflammatory state.
This chronic inflammatory state can increase oxidative stress, which increases aging and causes dysfunction of the primary body's systems.
While you can see the swollen joint and feel the symptoms of a cold or infection, you may not always be able to tell if you're in a chronically inflamed state. You may just be experiencing the typical symptoms daily and eventually have accepted them as "normal."
Chronic inflammation can impact multiple body systems, including the heart, bones, nervous system, and metabolic function. Symptoms of chronic inflammation include:
Your brain, heart, skeletal system, and immune system can suffer because of chronic inflammation. Several chronic illnesses have been linked with chronic inflammation, including heart disease, arthritis, and disruptions in the digestive system.
Working with a functional medicine doctor can help you identify the root cause of your inflammation. Chronic stress, exposure to toxins like mold and heavy metals, and untreated injuries can all induce a constant state of inflammation.
Even your diet can contribute to inflammation. Eating foods high in histamines can induce low levels of inflammation and include fermented foods, smoked meats, and certain vegetables.
Chronic alcohol use can also induce inflammation throughout the body.
Certain disorders can cause your immune system to induce inflammation, even when it's not needed, like Rheumatoid Arthritis and Crohn's Disease. These are both types of autoimmune disorders.
Blood tests can evaluate inflammatory markers, and a thorough exam can help identify inflammation and potential causes.
Living with chronic inflammation can disrupt your quality of life and put you at risk for many chronic illnesses. Dr. Cabrera and his team can help you evaluate your inflammation and identify potential causes.
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