For most people, inflammation is a normal part of the immune response, helping to protect injured limbs and ward against infectious diseases. In these instances, inflammation is very much a “good guy”: it has a crucial role to play in ensuring that acute conditions can successfully heal.
However, in some instances, inflammation does quite the heel turn and becomes a bad guy. More and more evidence is demonstrating that when inflammation becomes chronic (i.e. inflammation that is ongoing, without an underlying injury or infection to justify it), it can increase the risk of a number of health conditions, including heart conditions, diabetes, and even mental health conditions.
What are the symptoms of chronic inflammation?
- Body pain, which may be permanent or wax and wane
- Frequent mouth sores
- Excessive daytime tiredness
- A persistent low-grade fever
- Overproduction of mucus (for example, a continually-blocked nose)
- Skin problems, such as rashes, eczema, or psoriasis
Unfortunately, many of the symptoms of chronic inflammation are also symptoms of a range of other health conditions, so it is always important to discuss any of the above with your doctor.
How is chronic inflammation diagnosed?
There are markers on blood tests that can identify chronic inflammation.
What causes chronic inflammation?
The cause is not always known, but autoimmune disorders, irritants (such as chemicals in the air), smoking, and alcohol are all believed to cause inflammation.
How is chronic inflammation treated?
At present, there are no prescription medications that are prescribed in order to treat chronic inflammation. While anti-inflammatory medications (such as steroids or aspirin) do exist, these are used to treat acute inflammation and pain (such as swelling following an injury) or underlying health conditions, rather than being seen as suitable treatment for ongoing inflammation concerns.
How can chronic inflammation be managed?
As more and more has become known about the potential dangers posed by chronic inflammation, a number of suggestions have been made as to how inflammation in the body can be managed or reduced.
Many of these suggestions are what most of us would consider to be good lifestyle and health advice: exercise regularly, getting enough sleep, cutting back on alcohol, ensuring you are adequately hydrated, and so on. As a result, if you are concerned about inflammation, then focusing on these basics will definitely be beneficial.
As well as the above, you may also want to consider lifestyle changes, such as eating foods that are thought to have anti-inflammatory properties, such as tomatoes, olive oil, fatty fish, berries, and leafy green vegetables. CBD has also been associated with anti-inflammatory benefits, so you could look for CBD products to use, and also consider drinking more green tea.
Finally, there are signs that chronic inflammation may be related at least in part to stress, so focusing on reducing stress and focusing on self-care is also worth doing if you are concerned about chronic inflammation.
The evidence for the issues chronic inflammation can cause continues to build, so taking steps to address this issue – and reduce inflammation overall – with the help of a doctor alongside small lifestyle changes can definitely be a positive step for your health.