Inflammation – Acute vs. Chronic

May 1st, 2020

The immune system – operating via the lymphatic and circulatory systems – acts as the defender of the body. It keeps out what needs to be kept out, fights when it needs to fight and protects by cleaning up and disposing of dead or damaged cells.

A key component of a healthy immune system is inflammation. Inflammation is triggered immediately when it detects damage in the cells or tissues as a result of injury or the presence of pathogens or other toxins. Acute inflammation is the initial phase of the inflammation process. It is the first line of defense against disease. It is the time period when function is impaired. The area may be swollen, hot, red and painful. It is the “911 call” to the immune system that danger is present and the system must be activated to neutralize the threat. Acute inflammation is short lived and is a positive, protective, healing and renewing mechanism.

Chronic inflammation on the other hand is not beneficial. Chronic inflammation is not a friend to the body nor is it short lived. It is a sign that things are getting out of control and instead of attacking “invaders” the body is attacking itself. Chronic inflammation drains the immune system as it continues to prompt the immune system to send white blood cells to attack healthy tissue and organs setting up a chronic inflammatory process.

Chronic inflammation may be caused by:

  • Untreated causes of acute inflammation such as infection or injury;
  • Poor dietary / lifestyle choices such as alcohol consumption, smoking, obesity, stress
  • Exposure to a low level of a particular irritant or foreign materials that cannot be eliminated
  • Autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks healthy tissue
  • Recurrent episodes of acute inflammation

Symptoms / signs of chronic inflammation include:

  • Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Depression, anxiety and mood disorders
  • Brain fog, headaches
  • Gastrointestinal issues such as constipation, diarrhea and acid reflux
  • Weight gain
  • Frequent infections

By keeping the body in a constant state of alert, chronic inflammation is being shown to play a major role in such diseases as Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. But there is hope. You can eliminate and reverse the damaging effects of chronic inflammation. By making lifestyles changes, changing your diet and yes seeking physical therapy care, the body will stop attacking itself and begin the internal healing process paving the way toward improved health.

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