Inflammation is your body’s reaction to irritation

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Inflammation is the new buzzword.  What is it?  Is it bad?  How do you know you have it, how do you get rid of it?  Can you get rid of it?  Read on.

Inflammation is your body’s reaction to irritation, injury or infection.  It is the body’s way of protecting itself, so it can begin the process of healing.

There are two main types of inflammation – acute and chronic.  Acute is one we are all familiar with (burns, injury, foreign bodies – like splinters, etc.) .  The symptoms include pain, swelling, redness and sometimes loss of movement or function.  This warns the body that something is wrong, and it triggers the healing process.  It usually lasts a few days, and ends when the injury has passed.

Chronic Inflammation can last for several months or even years.  It can occur due to a failure to eliminate what caused the acute inflammation.

Medications like NSAIDs (Ibruprofens: Aleve, Advil, Motrin) are designed to mask the symptoms of the inflammation, the same symptoms that are designed to help you heal.  We are not telling you to just deal with the pain, we are telling you that your body is sending you signals and you should listen.  Some medications allow you to continue a high level of activity with an injury that could continue to be aggravated and get worse.  This is one way we develop chronic inflammation. These medications do not address the underlying cause of the inflammation – and have you seen the list of side effects?

Other ways we develop chronic inflammation are not as easy to explain, but easy to recognize: indigestion after meals, bleeding gums, and eczema, to name a few.  They are easy enough to ignore, but can lead to chronic inflammation and lifelong pain.

What we don’t often realize is that chronic inflammation may go undetected for decades and is a causative factor to most of the chronic and degenerative diseases we face.  For example, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis affect over 28 million Americans.  Chronic inflammation in the heart and circulatory system is increasingly recognized as a major factor in heart attacks, stroke and blood vessel disease.  Chronic inflammation is also a major component of allergies, asthma, Crohn’s, some cancers, and a list of autoimmune diseases.

How do you know you have it?  While you may not have been diagnosed with any of the above concerns or conditions, you may still have chronic inflammation.  Do you have an ongoing joint or muscle pain in your body, high blood pressure or blood sugar problems, ulcers, IBS?  These could be signs of inflammation.  If you believe that you might have chronic inflammation, there are lab tests that check.  Sensitivity tests can detect food and environmental allergens, C-Reactive Protein (CRP) is a common blood test that shows cardiovascular disease risk.  Other tests are useful for diagnosing and monitoring specific inflammatory conditions.

What do you do about it?  Pay attention to food and lifestyle choices. Depending on the severity of your condition, you may need to be on a specific food plan (regime).  In general, follow a whole foods diet with lots of fresh fruits & vegetables, healthy oils and grass-fed meats.

If you suspect you have chronic inflammation, please see your healthcare provider.  If you would like to follow a healthier lifestyle, please give us a call.

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