Inflammation is Healthy… Until it’s Not: Symptoms and Signs
Inflammation in itself isn’t a bad thing. It’s a perfectly healthy response of our immune system that comes into play whenever we suffer damage or disease. Inflammation creates a protective environment so that our cells and tissues can heal. It wraps the damaged area in cotton wool.
But when the immune system is constantly activated, all hell breaks loose.
4 Kinds of Inflammation
There are 4 kinds of inflammation: acute, chronic, localized and systemic.
Acute inflammation is an immediate, short term response to a sudden event, such as when you sprain your ankle.
Chronic inflammation occurs when the immune response doesn’t switch off and the inflammation continues for months or years.
Localized inflammation is confined to just one part of the body.
Systemic inflammation floods throughout the entire body, such as when you have the ‘flu and all your muscles ache.
These subsets can be combined. A sprained ankle is acute local inflammation. The aches and pains of the ‘flu are acute systemic inflammation. Acute inflammation is good – it does its job, and goes away. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is nasty. Chronic localized inflammation refers to those damaged muscles and tendons that simply won’t heal, even months or years after the trauma. Chronic systemic inflammation affects the entire body, with consequences ranging from seasonal allergies to cancer.
Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Systemic Inflammation
When the body is flooded with chronic inflammation, the immune system never switches off and the inflammatory response runs haywire throughout the entire body. An overworked immune system can’t function properly. It becomes weak and loses it’s capacity to do the normal day-to-day jobs of maintainance and repair, let alone the big jobs such as fighting bacteria and viruses and healing torn tendons. If it becomes confused it may lose the ability distinguish between the proteins of the body itself which need to be protected and the foreign invaders which need to be destroyed.
Chronic Systemic Inflammation can affect all the systems of the body and reveals itself as weaknesses or diseases in that system. For example:
- Immunity: Tendency to catch colds and ‘flu
- Muscular and Skeletal: Ongoing aches and pains in the joints and muscles, chronic tendonitis, osteoporosis
- Digestive: Acid reflux, heartburn, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, colitis, Crohn’s disease, gastroenteritis, gingevitis, Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
- Respiratory: Asthma, bronchitis, seasonal allergies, hayfever, sinisitis, excess mucous production
- Circulatory: High blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, diabetes, heart disease
- Nervous: Constant fatigue and lethargy, bipolar disorder, dimentia, depression, fibromyalgia, migraines and headaches, Parkinson’s disease, seizures
- Skin: Acne, rashes, allergies, dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis
- Autoimmune Disease: Arthritis, Alzhiemer’s disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Celiac Disease, Hashimoto’s Tyroiditis. Lupus, Lyme Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Scleroderma
- Reproductive: Endometriosis, Infertility
- As well: Cancer, Hepatitis, Obesity, Heart Disease, Behavioural Disorders
Prevention is Better than Cure
The list is obviously not complete. Chronic Systemic Inflammation is increasingly being recognized as the root cause of all contemporary disease. Prevention is infinitely better than cure, but taking action is easier said than done.
One big problem is that we simply aren’t aware that we’re suffering from Chronic Systemic Inflammation: the symptoms have become so common that we think they’re normal. The other is that most people aren’t motivated to take preventative measures until they’re completely debilitated by pain, diagnosed with a horrible disease, and/or at risk of death. At this point, either the damage is irreversible, or the road back to health is long and difficult.
This unawareness and lack of motivation creates unfathomable costs to the public and private health systems and burdens families and intimates with financial and emotional stress. This is a pity, because the problems associated with chronic systemmic inflammation are unneccessary and can be avoided. It just requires that we eat and live like humans.
Along with making sure that we consume the right fats, we can stop inflammation in it’s tracks by reinforcing the fortress of the immune system: that is, the lining of the gut.
From Sugar Burner to Fat Burner: It’s Not Just About Your Waistline – A 3 minute reminder of what goes on in your body/brain every time blood glucose levels go over the safe limit.
Good Fats, Bad Fats and Poison – Super important, to know the different families of fat,
Fat and Cholesterol: Truth, Lies and Politics – It’s a sad story.