Contributed by: Rachana Arya
Inflammation is the process in which your body fights against infections, injuries, and toxins that might be causing harm to your system. This defensive process occurs as a response from the immune system, and also signals that body is attempting to heal itself. There are two main types of inflammation, acute and chronic.
During acute inflammation, the body releases proteins and antibodies, while rapidly increasing blood flow to the affected area to begin the healing process. Acute inflammation is a short-term condition that goes away in a couple of hours to a few days.
Chronic inflammation on the other hand occurs when the inflammation process does not subside and continues. This in turn can lead to a serious impact on the organs and tissues, thus causing major medical conditions.
In the first episode of ‘FAQ Diaries‘, we try to address the common and frequently asked questions about inflammation to help you under this process better.
FAQ #1: What is inflammation?
While laypeople tend to use the term ‘inflammation’ with swelling; this is not exactly how the medical fraternity refers to the word. Generally speaking, inflammation refers to the body’s natural mechanism of fighting against an irritant, in an attempt to defend and heal itself. The irritant could be pathogens (bacteria, viruses, and other organisms, which cause infections), toxins, or it could also be a foreign object, such as a thorn in your finger.
FAQ #2: Is inflammation a chronic problem?
Inflammation is a biological response of body tissues to harmful stimuli, but it is more complex than it might seem. That’s because it’s not always clear if the inflammation a person is experiencing is causing a problem or is just part of the body’s response to a problem.
FAQ #3: Is inflammation good or bad for the body?
The general public loves black-and-white heroes and villains, but reality does not always fit into such neat classifications. The saying “too much of a good thing” applies, especially to inflammation. Inflammation can be both good and bad. When it’s good, it fights off infection and heals injuries. But when it’s bad, inflammation ignites a host of disorders including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, asthma, atherosclerosis, blindness, cancer, and quite possibly, autism and mental illness.
FAQ #4: How does inflammation affect the body?
When the body detects an intruder, it launches a biological response by sending white blood cells, or ‘soldier cells’ to the site of the injury or infection in order to fight off harmful bacteria entering your system.
This raises the blood flow to the area of injury or infection and may result in redness and warmth. Some of the chemicals cause a leak of fluid into your tissues, resulting in swelling. This protective process may also stimulate nerves, thereby causing pain.
FAQ #5: What are the 5 classic symptoms of inflammation in the body?
Based on visual observation, the prominent symptoms of inflammation can be summed up by the acronym PRISH :
- Pain (dolor)
- Redness (rubor)
- Immobility of inflamed joint (functio laesa)
- Swelling (tumor)
- Heat (calor)
FAQ #6: Is inflammation easy to spot in the body?
While some signs of inflammation are obvious—redness, swelling, and pain—some early indications and symptoms of chronic inflammation can be very vague, with modest signs and symptoms that can go unnoticed for months or years. Regularly experiencing pain that isn’t caused by an injury is a sign of a lot of inflammation. You may have too much inflammation if you have pain at the end of your range of motion. It could also be an indication that you have arthritis.
FAQ #7: Is inflammation in the body a significant concern?
Inflammation symptoms are similar to the engine light on a car’s dashboard. It alerts you to the fact that something has gone wrong. But you don’t respond by removing the bulb because that isn’t the issue. Instead, you investigate what triggered the light to come on. While inflammation happens in everyone, irrespective of whether you’re aware of it or not; it definitely is a very important signal. It tells you that something bigger is going on, red-flagging you to pay attention.
FAQ #8: How long can inflammation last?
Acute inflammation symptoms persist for a few days. The duration of sub-acute inflammation is 2 to 6 weeks. Chronic inflammation is ongoing and can last for weeks, months, or sometimes even persist for years.
FAQ #9: Does fasting have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body?
Recent research has shown that fasting — for more than 24 hours, intermittent or on alternate days — reduces inflammation and improves chronic inflammatory diseases. That reduction is due to the reduced production of cells that cause inflammation — called “monocytes” — in the blood.
FAQ #10: What are the best anti-inflammatory foods to reduce inflammation?
One of the most powerful tools to ease pain, swelling, and inflammation comes from the grocery store, and not from the pharmacy store. If you’re looking for a dietary plan that closely follows the guidelines of anti-inflammatory eating, consider a diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and healthy oils rather than sugary drinks, processed carbs, and processed meats.
FAQ #11: What are the best ayurvedic herbs for inflammation?
Ayurveda has a plethora of herbal formulas and spices that have been used to treat inflammation with relatively fewer side effects. The most commonly prescribed herbs often combined with an integrative approach to reduce the inflammatory response are:
FAQ #12: How can you diagnose inflammation?
The best way to detect inflammation is to conduct a blood test for white blood cell count and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), which is a marker of inflammation.
We hope these answers were able to address your queries or doubts regarding inflammation. Although, inflammation generally is not a serious concern, however, chronic inflammation should never be ignored. A diagnostic test to check for inflammation is the best way to find how serious the inflammation is in your system.
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