You might think inflammation is simply what makes an ankle swell after you sprain it, but turns out your body could be in a constant state of inflammation on the inside. Inflammation at it’s core is the body’s natural defense mechanism – an immune response to heal and repair itself as well as protect against foreign invaders (bacteria, virus, etc). Inflammation is necessary to life and is often characterized on the outside by visible swelling, redness, warmth, and even pain.
Immune responses to defend internal organs and repair internal tissues often involve an increase in blood flow, as well as a disbursement of white blood cells, nutrients, hormones, and fluid. Only when you injure yourself or when a pathogen enters your system should your body switch the immune response on, however, researchers are finding more and more cases where the switch always seems to be on. Chronic inflammation has been linked in recent years to a variety of autoimmune conditions and diseases like diabetes and obesity. The consequences of this constantly inflamed state shed light on the dangers chronic inflammation can pose, especially when the body starts to mistake harmless entities for internal threats.
If you’re concerned about chronic inflammation, keep an eye out for these warning signs:
Frequent flatulence, bloating, constipation and diarrhea could be key indicators that your intestines is inflamed or seeping toxins into your bloodstream. Constant low-level inflammation can damage tissue like the lining of your gut, disrupting digestion and leading to ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome.
Gaining weight, especially around the midsection like a “spare tire,” can serve as an early clue you might have chronic inflammation. Why? Because fat is known for generating the chemicals which had aid inflammatory responses. The more belly fat you have, the more of these chemicals you’re producing for the body to use.
Extreme exhaustion, brain fog, and fatigue are common markers of inflammatory diseases like multiple sclerosis, and can provide early indication of potential chronic inflammation in your own body. Scientists think that infiltration of immune cells associated with chronic inflammation into the brain might cause behavioral changes and symptoms like fatigue. As well, cells that are perpetually ordered to fight off attacks and which are inflamed will generally offer you less energy to go about your daily life.
Do you have constant reddened or blotchy skin? Developing skin conditions like eczema or the autoimmune disease psoriasis? This more visible chronic inflammation symptom is representative of the body triggering abnormal inflammatory responses to aggravation in the upper layers of the epidermis.
Allergic inflammation like you see with asthma, contact dermatitis, or hay fever represents an immunological response to non-infectious environmental substances (allergens) and non-infectious components of some infectious organisms. Consistent allergic responses can be characteristic of chronic inflammation with long-term consequences that keep the body in a constant state of runny nose, nasal inflammation, rashes, etc.
Periodontal diseases where the gums are inflamed and detach from the teeth, or where tooth plaque builds up and leads to gum infection, can be painful and life-threatening. Growing evidence suggests that periodontal disease results from a failure of the body to reach tissue homeostasis within the mouth’s gums which can lead to chronic inflammation.
Other warning signs your body is experiencing chronic inflammation might include depression, puffy bags under the eyes, high blood glucose levels, and joint stiffness. The good news is that there are things you can do on your own to help fight chronic inflammation.
Diet modifications play potentially the best role and include increasing consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, limiting red meat, drinking red wine, consuming a small amount of nuts daily, and bumping up healthy fat intake with fish and avocados. Inflammatory foods you want to avoid include sugar, wheat, grains, artificial additives, and cow’s milk.
Regular exercise, self-monitoring, and meditation may also play a role in equipping your body with the tools it needs to decrease long-term damage as well as fight off real infections that can make you sick. Monitoring symptoms when you develop a cold, like tracking fevers with the best oral digital thermometer, or logging blood pressure readings to stay on top of hypertension risk, even checking your blood sugar levels if you are prediabetic – these types of self-empowering monitoring practices combined with diet and exercise can be your ticket to reversing chronic damage for good.