Chronic inflammation is extremely dangerous. In fact, it has been associated with most chronic diseases. When your immune system is activated, it sends inflammatory cells to help protect and heal damaged tissue. When the immune system becomes overactive, it can continue to send inflammatory cells long past your illness or injury, resulting in chronic inflammation. The chronic inflammation symptoms are as varied as the cells, tissues, and organs in your body.
Inflammation is the first line of defense against illness or injury. The inflammatory response is designed to trap dangerous bacteria, protect injured tissues and begin the healing process. When the body becomes confused, inflammation can continue long after your injured tissues have healed, or your illness has passed.
What are Chronic Inflammation Symptoms?
Chronic inflammation can be difficult to spot as the symptoms can mimic other health conditions, infections, and injuries. Here are the top seven symptoms of inflammation:
- Abdominal Pain – When you have chronic inflammation in your gastrointestinal tract, it can cause a number of digestive woes including abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and gas. Additionally, inflammation in the body can damage the tight junctures in the intestines, resulting in leaky gut syndrome, which can allow toxins and bacteria to leak out of the digestive system and into the body.
- Chest Pain – Chronic inflammation of blood vessels, lung tissues, and the muscles in the chest wall can all lead to chest pain. When blood vessels become inflamed, it restricts blood flow, which can lead to angina. When the lining of your lungs becomes inflamed, it can cause pleurisy which causes pain upon inhalation and exhalation. Finally, inflammation of the chest wall, also known as costochondritis, can cause chronic inflammation symptoms that mimic a heart attack. The pain can be sudden and severe.
- Cognitive Issues – If you have inflammation in your body, it can impact your brain health, resulting in memory issues, emotional problems, and learning difficulties. Inflammation throughout the body can impact the body’s ability to make neurotransmitters, including dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.
- Fatigue – If you are continually tired even after getting a full night’s sleep, you may be suffering from chronic inflammation. Long-term inflammation can cause you to feel run down like you do when you are sick. Long-term systemic inflammation increases the need for cellular energy as the body produces more immune cells which deplete your energy stores and cause fatigue.
- Joint Pain and Stiffness – Systemic inflammation causes body pain, including joint pain and muscle stiffness. When inflammation occurs, the immune system releases inflammatory cytokines to fight disease. Unfortunately, these cytokines attack your muscles and joints, causing pain, swelling, and redness.
- Phlegm – Are you always blowing your nose or clearing your throat due to thick phlegm? Chronic inflammatory response syndrome causes inflammation in the respiratory system. The body produces phlegm to protect the epithelial cells that line the respiratory system from further damage.
- Skin Rash – The signs of inflammation can extend to the skin. Inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis cause red, flaking skin that is rough. Both of these skin conditions have been linked with an overactive immune system and systemic inflammation.
What Are the Most Common Inflammatory Diseases?
Inflammatory diseases occur when you have ongoing inflammation throughout your body. There are many inflammatory diseases that can impact your health. Here are the most common chronic conditions associated with systemic inflammation.
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Ankylosing Spondylitis
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Crohn’s Disease
- Fatty Liver Disease
- Graves’ Disease
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Peptic Ulcer
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Sjogren’s Syndrome
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Ulcerative Colitis
Testing for Chronic Inflammation
Testing for chronic inflammation requires a multipronged approach. Your functional doctor will begin by taking a full health history that includes your lifestyle choices, your family history, your symptoms, and any prior diagnoses. In addition to this, several blood tests will be performed, including:
- High Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein – High Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hs-CRP) is a type of protein that the body produces in response to inflammation. After an injury or an infection, high sensitivity C-reactive protein indicates the inflammatory response has been activated.
- Sedimentation Rate – Sedimentation rate, abbreviated ESR, measures how fast red blood cells settle in a sample of blood. Typically, sedimentation occurs slowly. Inflammation causes the red blood cells to settle quickly. Therefore, if your sedimentation rate is elevated, it indicates inflammation.
- White Blood Cell Count – This test will determine if your white blood cells are elevated. If the test shows they are high, it indicates the immune system is activated. When the immune system is activated, it causes an inflammatory response.
Each of these tests looks at different parts of the blood to see if the blood shows any signs of inflammation. Unfortunately, these tests cannot tell where the inflammation is coming from; however, they do indicate if inflammation is in your body. Furthermore, when these tests are run over a period of time, they can help determine if your inflammation is worsening or resolving.
How You Can Heal Your Chronic Inflammation
There are many natural ways to reduce and relieve chronic inflammation. Each of these methods is designed to calm the immune system, improve your health, and reduce systemic inflammation. Here are our top recommendations on the best holistic way to reduce inflammation in the body:
- Exercise – Getting at least 150 minutes of exercise each week can help reduce your inflammation naturally. Additionally, moderate exercise has been shown to improve immune function.
- Food Sensitivities – If you have any food sensitivities, you will experience inflammation if they are consumed. Follow an elimination diet and learn which foods may be causing your inflammation. Then, avoid them to prevent inflammation.
- Inflammatory Foods – Knowing which foods are pro-inflammatory (sugar, refined carbohydrates, simple, carbohydrates, and dairy products) and removing them from your diet can help reduce inflammation. Replace the foods with anti-inflammatory foods like fresh herbs, fresh vegetables, fatty fish, and fresh fruits.
- Stress Relief Techniques – Chronic stress has been linked to chronic inflammation. Utilizing stress relief techniques like yoga, deep breathing exercises, journaling, meditation, and prayer can help reduce stress and relieve inflammation in the body.
- Supplementation – There are several supplements that can help to fight long-term inflammation. Adding fish oil, turmeric, and probiotics to your supplementation program can help relieve the inflammation in your body.
Inflammation has been linked to almost every chronic disease. Learning how to spot the signs and symptoms of inflammation and how to relieve systemic inflammation is the first step toward improved health. If your body has become inflamed, talk with a functional doctor who understands how to heal the body naturally. Adopt an anti-inflammatory diet, get the recommended amount of exercise, get a good night’s sleep, and practice stress relief techniques to reduce inflammation.