What Is Inflammation?
Inflammation is an immune response of the body to an injury or infection. The inflammatory process triggers the production of white blood cells and other substances that help protect the body. This process increases blood flow to the affected areas, resulting in warmth, redness, swelling, and pain.
What Are the Symptoms of Inflammation?
There are five classic signs of inflammation, sometimes referred to by their Latin names:
- Pain (dolor)
- Heat (calor)
- Redness (rubor)
- Swelling (tumor)
- Loss of function (functio laesa)
Symptoms that may accompany inflammation include:
What Causes Inflammation?
Inflammation occurs when white blood cells and other substances are produced by the body to protect itself from foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. This increases blood flow to an area, which results in warmth and redness. Some of the chemicals released also cause fluid to leak into surrounding tissues, resulting in swelling and pain.
There are 2 types of inflammation: acute inflammation which lasts for a short time and goes away, and chronic inflammation which usually lasts more than six weeks.
Examples of causes of acute inflammation include:
- Physical trauma/injury
- Acute bronchitis
- Sore throat
- Skin cuts and scratches
- Infected, ingrown toenails
- Dermatitis, including skin conditions such as eczema
- Insect stings
Examples of causes of chronic inflammation include:
- Autoimmune conditions
- Gum disease (periodontitis)
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Heart diseases such as high blood pressure and heart disease
- Metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes
- Neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease
- Certain cancers, such as colon cancer
How Is Inflammation Diagnosed?
Inflammation is diagnosed with a medical history and physical exam.
Tests to diagnose inflammation include:
What Is the Treatment for Inflammation?
Some forms of inflammation may benefit from treatment with conservative measures and home remedies including:
- Icing an injury
- Compression or elevation of an injury
- Physical therapy
- Healthy diet
- Low fat and low added sugar
- High fiber
- Avoid foods that can trigger inflammation such as fried foods, sugary foods, processed foods, red meats, refined carbohydrates, shortening, and lard.
Medical treatment for inflammation depends on the cause and may include:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Antimalarial medications
- Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
- Biologic drugs
For some chronic inflammatory conditions, surgery may be indicated.
How Do You Prevent Inflammation?
Inflammation may be prevented by:
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