canuvo chronic inflammation

Chronic Inflammation, Part One: Is Inflammation a Disease?

Turn on your TV or computer and you’ll be inundated with any number of pills, supplements, diets, and exercise programs touted as inflammation’s cure-all. It’s almost as if there’s a newly discovered disease by the name of inflammation.

What role does inflammation play in your health? Is chronic inflammation the root of disease or just misunderstood?

In Part 1 of Chronic Inflammation:

Understanding inflammation

Signs and symptoms

Acute vs. chronic inflammation

Health consequences of chronic inflammation

Supplemental Reading: Acute Inflammation: Health Friend or Foe?

What is Inflammation?

Inflammation is your body’s natural response to something that compromises your health. When your immune system senses a physical threat (viruses, toxins, allergens, trauma, etc.), an inflammatory response is triggered to defend, protect, and heal what ails you.

In an event of an injury or illness, inflammation is part of the process that repairs damaged tissue and rids you of infection. If you fall and scrape a knee, inflammatory activity immediately escalates. White blood (immune) cells and fluid rush to your wound, protecting nearby tissue and fighting infection.

Signs + Symptoms of Acute Inflammation

Redness

Swelling

Pain

Temperature/warm to touch

Loss of function/mobility

Generally, the effects of inflammation are relative to the severity of your injury. If you’ve experienced a fever from the flu or seen an ankle quadruple in size after a sprain, you’ve benefited from inflammation’s response to heal and protect.

Inflammation certainly has its qualities. Without it, we wouldn’t be alive. On the other hand, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.

Acute vs. Chronic Inflammation

Chronic inflammation starts the same way as acute does. It begins with something injured or irritating your body and stimulating your immune system. But instead of a quick, intense reaction to a health emergency, chronic inflammation comes on slowly as a result of a low-grade stressor or health malady.

Acute inflammation functions to heal and protect your body. Its onset and duration are relatively short; it gets in, gets the job done, and gets out.

Because of its severity, when inflammation is acute, it’s easy to monitor the situation. You can see and feel its effects. If symptoms get worse or drag on, you quickly know it. When your health crisis is averted, inflammation dissipates, and you’ll feel noticeably better.

The problem with chronic inflammation is that it’s often hard to diagnose and manage until it’s resulted in other health consequences. Chronic inflammation can result from any number of reasons. Remember, anything your immune system perceives as an attack elicits an inflammatory response.

Signs + Symptoms of Chronic Inflammation

Fatigue, low energy, despite plenty of sleep

Body aches, joint pains, lingering and unexplained pain points

Mood disorders – anxiety, depression, brain fog

Gastrointestinal issues – IBS, IBD, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation

Allergies – food/seasonal, excessive mucus production

Skin problems – acne, psoriasis, eczema, rashes

Hypertension (high blood pressure)

High blood sugar

Frequent illness/infection

Insomnia/sleep problems

Weight gain (especially belly fat), can’t lose excess weight

Headaches/migraines

Puffiness – face, hands, etc.

 

What Causes Chronic Inflammation?

Of course, there is rarely a simple answer to a complicated health situation. Since any attack on your body induces inflammation, even small attacks on a regular basis cause harm to your health. What else going on in your body that contributes to chronic inflammation?

Chronic Illness

Acute inflammation can eventually manifest into chronic inflammation if your illness or injury is extensive. Serious infections and resistant bacteria create chronic inflammation when the ailment or injury is beyond your body’s ability to repair or eradicate. Inflammatory immune activity remains until your health status is restored – indefinitely.

Recurrent Illness

Just as an unresolved illness contributes to chronic inflammation, frequently stressing your immune system with virus after virus or injury after injury will eventually lead to the same condition. Acute inflammation followed by acute inflammation equals chronic inflammation.

Constant Exposure

What you come in contact with every day will have the most significant impact on your health. Look at your daily environment and habits to pinpoint potential inflammation sources. For example, if you’re breathing in toxic chemicals all day at work, you are exposing your body to attack – every single day. What you eat can be an even bigger factor when you consider the list of food and chemical ingredients on packages.

Autoimmune Disease

Here’s another situation where just by suffering from an ailment or condition, your body is in a state of chronic inflammation. Autoimmune diseases are when your immune system starts attacking your own body’s healthy cells and tissues. When this happens, your body is relentlessly under attack and consequently inflamed.

Inflammatory Dysfunction

Although we often study and discuss components of health and your body separately, everything in our bodies is very much connected. Imbalances somewhere else in your body can cause chronic inflammation when they get out of whack. Dysfunctions in hormones, digestion, and your other biological systems can stimulate inflammation just by being out of optimal range.

Inflammation is a Wrecking Ball

Inflammation running amok is problematic when it leads to more and more health conditions. Until the source of your inflammation is addressed, immune cells stay active and on the attack. Eventually, white blood cells go after healthy cells and tissue, resulting in a further diseased state.

Every cell in your body is affected by chronic inflammation. Compromised cellular function results in oxidative stress, DNA damage, and toxic overload. Over time, chronic inflammation also opens you up to cancer and compromised health. Because your immune system is under constant duress, its ability to fight illness becomes diminished.

Conditions Caused by Chronic Inflammation

How chronic inflammation affects your body will depend on where and how your immune cells strike. The list of diseases and conditions associated with chronic inflammation is (almost) endless. Here’s the short list in no particular order:

Cardiovascular (heart) disease

Asthma

Arthritis

Osteoporosis

Diabetes

Liver disease

Gastrointestinal diseases

Autoimmune disorders

Obesity

Cancers

Psoriasis

Neurodegenerative (brain) diseases

Periodontal (dental) disease

“Inflammaging”

Because getting older isn’t hard enough, chronic inflammation can age you faster. The concept of “inflammaging” describes low-level chronic inflammation that doesn’t originate from illness or infection. This kind of inflammation is particularly dangerous when coupled with other age-related diseases. It’s always worse when you can’t pinpoint the problem to treat it properly.

Next: Everything you can do to lower inflammation

However overwhelming inflammation may seem, you have control over your own health.

Subscribe to learn everything you need to know to manage and control inflammation plaguing you!

Coming up in Part 2 of Chronic Inflammation:

Testing for inflammation

Medicine and treatment options

Strategies to manage and reduce inflammation

CONNECT DEEPER

If you resonated with this content and want to learn more, please Subscribe to The Health Cannabist and get a FREE direct line of contact with me. Get answers questions about Cannabis, Health, Fitness, & Nutrition!


Sources:

  1. Pahwa R, Jialal I. Chronic Inflammation. [Updated 2018 Oct 27]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2018 Jan-. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/
  2. Rea IM, Gibson DS, McGilligan V, McNerlan SE, Alexander HD, Ross OA. Age and Age-Related Diseases: Role of Inflammation Triggers and Cytokines. Front Immunol. 2018;9:586. Published 2018 Apr 9. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2018.00586
  3. Informed Health Online [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. What is an inflammation? 2010 Nov 23 [Updated 2018 Feb 22]. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279298/
  4. “National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 19 Nov. 2018. Retrieved from: www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/about/index.htm.
  5. Claudio Franceschi, Judith Campisi; Chronic Inflammation (Inflammaging) and Its Potential Contribution to Age-Associated Diseases, The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, Volume 69, Issue Suppl_1, 1 June 2014, Pages S4–S9, Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/glu057
Elizabeth
elizabeth@canuvo.org

About the Author: Elizabeth Frasier has been a Personal Trainer & Nutritionist for over 25 years and is the owner of www.thehealthcannabist.com, where she educates how to integrate cannabis with a productive, healthy, and active lifestyle. She researches, interviews, and writes extensively on the topics of cannabis, health, exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle and wellness enhancement. She advocates a science-based and biologically appropriate approach to health from an ancestral and holistic point of view.

No Comments

Post A Comment