For centuries, inflammation has been used as a metric of telling the extent of injury to your body. When the word was first used, it was to describe the visual observation of an area of the body affected by reddening, swelling, pain, and heat.
Today, when the doctor says you have inflammation, they’re most often summarizing the changes to any area of your body after it has been injured. However, for it to qualify as inflammation, the injury must have not been to such extent that you lose complete function of the affected body part. Normally, inflammation happens as your body’s response to fight off an infection in an attempt to heal itself.
With the right treatment and proper diet, you can manage and treat inflammation and relieve the body of any discomfort.
Types of inflammation
There are two main types of inflammation - chronic inflammation, and acute inflammation.
- Chronic inflammation: This involves a response by the body that occurs over a long period of time, often months or even years. It is also called slow or long-term inflammation, and its extent depends on the injury or your body’s ability to recover.
- Acute inflammation: This inflammation develops quickly and may become severe in a short while, but it often then goes away in a few days. This response occurs as a result of tissue damage caused by physical injury, infection, or contact with toxic substances.
10 classic signs of inflammation
When a part of your body is inflamed, it can be easy to tell by visual observation; however, this may only be possible in cases of acute inflammation. Sometimes, patients with chronic inflammation fail to notice signs or mistake their symptoms for something else.
5 classic signs of acute inflammation:
- Affected function of the infected body part
5 classic signs of chronic inflammation:
Causes of inflammation
Apart from physical injury to your body, inflammation can be caused by a lot more.
- Exposure to toxins like some industrial chemicals, any form of pollution, or foreign objects like certain jewelry
- Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus
- Exposure to harmful radiation
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
- Infection by foreign material into the body
- High body mass index
- An inherited condition
Untreated acute inflammation can also lead to chronic inflammation.
Body inflammation can further be caused by certain lifestyle choices. These include:
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Little or no exercise
- Excessive body exercise that strains your body
- Choice of foods
Eating processed, fast, or heavily salted foods has been known to cause inflammation.
How to manage body inflammation
In most cases, the cause of inflammation will determine whether you need to see your doctor or not. Any minor injuries or exposure to irritants can be managed at home using easy-to-find remedies. However, if the extent of inflammation involves a wound, has been caused by a corrosive chemical, or has been caused by an injury whose symptoms worsen even after first aid, you should see the doctor right away.
In addition to the anti-inflammatory medication that your doctor may prescribe, you may be asked to follow through with the following management practices.
The Mediterranean diet is highly recommended for its anti-inflammatory benefits. This is mostly a plant-based diet that is rich in healthy fats and unprocessed nutrients that help your body obtain the resources it needs to heal. Some of the foods you can take for anti-inflammatory effects are:
- Vegetables and fruits
- Fish like salmon and tuna are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids which have lots of benefits to your body besides preventing inflammation, including brain development.
- Healthy oils from foods like olives, canola, sesame, chia seeds, flax seeds, and walnut
- A little red wine
- Plant-based proteins from beans, lentils, etc.
- Tea instead of coffee
- Spices and herbs such as ginger and turmeric
- Complex carbohydrates from whole grains barley, brown rice, rye, and buckwheat. These are loaded with fiber that reduces inflammation.
Your doctor will want you to eat more prepared or cooked meals instead of processed foods.
Other treatment options available for your doctor to explore include:
Only administered by your doctor, a shot of the right steroid can prove highly effective against inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, and joint pain. Steroids can be addictive, though, and should always be used under professional supervision.
Although you can get the same nutrients from food, your doctor may find that it is necessary to boost your immunity with a couple of supplements. Vitamin supplements, tea extracts, and other anti-inflammatory elements not only help fight off symptoms but also give your body the extra hand it needs to protect itself in the future.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
In the case that your inflammation includes pain, your doctor may want to prescribe drugs within the NSAIDS class. It can be an injection or an ointment that relieves you of the pain. However, they should always be taken with a prescription. The use of these painkillers is currently under scrutiny for the negative effects they may have. These include kidney problems, stomach ulcers, or the risk of bleeding.
For any of the listed signs of inflammation, it is best to contact your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
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Biochemical Society Interactions: "Genetic relationships between A20/TNFAIP3, chronic inflammation, and autoimmune disease."
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Journal of Pain Research: "New Insights into the Use of Currently Available Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs."
Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition: "Identification of Specific Foods."
Journal of Theoretical Biology: "The dynamics of acute inflammation."
The New England Journal of Medicine: "Autoimmune Diseases."
Nutrition in Clinical Practice: "Anti-inflammatory Diet in Clinical Practice: A Review."
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