Understanding Inflammation

What Causes Acute Inflammation?

Inflammation may indicate your body is recovering or struggling, but how can you tell? Acute inflammation your bodies way of protecting itself against harm. Some triggers include tissue damage, such as a burn, cut, or bump, the presence of a foreign substance like a splinter or a pathogen such as a virus or bacteria.

During the inflammation process your body alerts and attracts immune cells to the area of a pathogen. Immune cells then fight the pathogen and eliminate it before specialised cells will then start to repair any damage.

Good Vs Bad Inflammation

If inflammation is in response to a trigger like an infection or injury, the body’s defence system will respond rapidly and trigger the physical signs like redness or warmth or swelling. Typically these symptoms should only last a short period of time, however depending on the source, this response may last for a few days, up to a couple of weeks.

Inflammation can also be long-term, lasting for several months or even years. This may result from the body failing to eliminate the bacteria, virus or other micro-organism causing the inflammation or mistakenly attacking its own cells. When inflammation is ongoing it is classified as chronic inflammation. These can be things such as

  • Rheumatoid arthritis: A condition where permanent joint inflammation occurs.
  • Psoriasis: A chronic skin disease.
  • Inflammation of the bowel: Conditions such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

    While inflammation plays a key role in your body’s defence mechanism, it’s thought that chronic inflammation may increase the risk of developing more serious conditions and diseases, such as some types of cancer and even type 2 diabetes!

Treating Acute Inflammation 

Some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and aspirin are available and are commonly used to reduce pain caused by acute inflammation.   

For muscle and joint injuries, compressing, elevating and applying something cool to an inflamed area will help relieve some symptoms of inflammation, but won’t eliminate the underlying cause of the inflammation.  For this it’s best to see your local Medwest Physiotherapist, who can diagnose and help treat the main cause of your inflammation. This can be done through rehabilitate exercises or treatment done to the specific are.

Healthy habits may also help prevent chronic inflammation, or in some cases reduce pain linked to inflammatory conditions. 

Healthy Habits For Managing Chronic Inflammation

Keeping Fit And Healthy
Research indicates that being overweight triggers low grade, long-term inflammation, which may play a role in these chronic health conditions. So you can add inflammation to the long list of reasons you should maintain a healthy weight by eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly.   

Limit Your Drinking
Excessive drinking above regular levels (2 standard drinks per day) on a regular basis may lead to chronic inflammation, including long-term effects on the liver, stomach, intestines and pancreas.

Omega-3 fats  
Omega-3 fats may help reduce the inflammation associated with some forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Eating these foods may have a range of benefits for your health, but if you are experiencing arthritis, it’s likely you’ll need a supplement to get enough omega-3s to reduce inflammation.