- Inflammation. We hear this term often, associated with arthritis, bowel diseases, autoimmune disorders and even metabolic problems including obesity and diabetes.
What exactly is it?
Inflammation results when white blood cells release chemicals to combat foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses.
Infection as well as injury can trigger a sequence of events in the immune system. The familiar marks of inflammation — heat, redness, swelling and pain — are the first signals that your immune system is being called into action.
- The discharge of chemicals increases blood flow to the area which and may appear as redness and warmth.
- Some of the chemicals provoke leakage of fluid into the surrounding tissues, resulting in swelling.
- This sequence may stimulate nerves and cause pain.
Thus, the immune process protects us from greater ills (death by infection, perhaps) but gets a bit rough in the process, sacrificing nearby tissue to bruising and discoloration. Inflammation is a normal part of our body’s natural defense system.
Most of the time. Sometimes our bodies respond to phantom threats.
Even when there are no foreign substances to fight off, the immune system may initiate an inflammatory cascade. In these false alarms, called autoimmune diseases, the body’s normally protective immune system, causes damage to its own tissues.
Chronic inflammation results when the anti-inflammatory response persists. The trouble is that chronic inflammation hosts macrophages which release toxins that damage the tissue.
How to fight inflammation?
Medications may be the first option: steroids such as prednisone and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen.
Exercise and diet are also helpful.
Probiotic bacteria have been shown to reduce the release of cytokines which inflame and to increase another called interleukin-10, which dampens inflammation.