Your body is your kingdom. Like a kingdom, it has its army that wades off the invaders. When in crisis, it deploys its soldiers to fight off the enemy to protect you. Isn’t it wonderful? You got your own army inside of you. 

So, where does inflammation come from? How is it related? Inflammation is your body’s response when your body is under attack. It sends off inflammatory cells and cytokines to trap bacteria and start healing. 

So, let’s learn more about inflammation, including its good and bad side.  

Inflammation in detail 

Inflammation is the process wherein your body’s White Blood Cells (WBC) fight off infections and protect you from harmful viruses and bacteria. In other words, it’s your body’s own fighting mechanism. Inflammation is of two types, acute inflammation and chronic inflammation. 

Acute inflammation: 

Acute inflammation is when your body deploys inflammatory cells to deal with sudden damage, such as getting injured. In this process, the cells begin the process of healing. 

Chronic inflammation: 

As established, inflammation is your body’s natural response when it is under attack. However, in some instances, the body keeps sending inflammatory cells even when there is no apparent danger. One such example is rheumatoid arthritis, wherein the cells attack joint tissues. 

Inflammation: The good and bad side 

The good side 

Well, the good thing about inflammation is that your body fights off infections and heals you. The result may be redness, discomfort and pain. But this is not the bad part. It’s a sign that your body is preparing to heal. Let’s learn that in detail.

Our body’s immune system responds to damage by releasing molecules which widen blood vessels and bring other immune cells to the war field. The increased blood flow causes redness that you usually see after an injury. When that happens, the blood vessels become “leaky”, only to pave the way for the immune cells. This is what causes swelling, especially when you are injured.  The fluid escapes from your blood to reach your tissues. Some of these inflammatory signals can also be pain signals that help open up blood vessels. 

This is the normal inflammatory process when your body is injured or attacked by viruses or bacteria, and causes no long-term damaging effects. 

The bad side

The bad side is when the inflammatory cells begin to attack even when there’s no danger around. This is when it begins to harm even the good and healthy cells and can lead to a number of disorders including asthma, blindness, cancer, diabetes and atherosclerosis. 

While acute inflammation is short-lived and is only active until your body or wound is healed. However, when it develops for no medical reason, it can last a lifetime and can do more harm than good in the long run. It is often linked with diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, hepatitis C, cancer and even excess weight. 

But why and how? 

One thing that links diabetes and obesity is chronic inflammation. 

Inflammation, obesity and diabetes

You must know that inflammatory cells produce numerous waves of chemicals, called cytokines, that kill germs. However, fat cells also produce the same chemicals. So, when you gain weight, the fat cells grow and attract the disease-fighting cells. The weight of obesity can also crush fat cells as inflammatory cells take the stage to clean up the mess. This doesn’t make the problem easy but worse. Additionally, inflammation also provokes the action of insulin, leading to diabetes. 

Inflammation and heart disease 

Chronic inflammation causes many circulatory and heart conditions, such as atherosclerosis, which may lead to strokes and heart attacks. 

Atherosclerosis occurs when fatty plaques form in the walls of our arteries. If the cells in the lining of the arteries become damaged (by high blood pressure or smoking), the resulting inflammation can facilitate the accumulation of fat molecules and immune cells. 

What causes further damage is the immune response to the build-up, which makes the artery hardened and narrowed, limiting the blood flow, and causing heart attacks. 

Closing thoughts 

inflammation reveals itself as a double-edged sword, with both advantageous and detrimental aspects. While acute inflammation serves as a crucial defence mechanism, protecting the body from harmful invaders and promoting healing, chronic inflammation can lead to a host of health issues. 

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