I am a member of a celiac disease Facebook group and the other day a woman posted that her doctor prescribed an anti-inflammatory drug for her to take to reduce inflammation in her body.
The subject of inflammation has been a hot topic recently. That’s because there is growing evidence that many serious, chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and depression may be linked to inflammation. Also, many chronic medical conditions are known to be directly due to inflammation such as; lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. As people age, they become more susceptible to chronic inflammation and the diseases associated with it. Combined, these chronic inflammatory conditions affect over 50 million Americans.
Two kinds of Inflammation
- Acute Inflammation
Inflammation can be categorized as two types, chronic and acute. When the body is exposed to harmful stimuli, such as an injury, bacteria or a foreign body, the immune system is triggered resulting in inflammation. This kind of immune response typically lasts for a short period of time and is known as acute inflammation. It is part of the body’s immune response and is a healthy reaction. Inflammation becomes a health problem when it transforms into a long-term, ongoing condition known as chronic inflammation
2. Chronic Inflammation
Chronic inflammation can exist for a long time in a person’s body without any noticeable symptoms. The process can be the result of three possible causes. Some types of chronic inflammation begin as a bout of acute inflammation after which the immune response does not shut off. Another cause of chronic inflammation is when the immune system launches an attack on healthy tissue by mistaking it for a pathogen. Lastly, chronic inflammation can result from the persistent presence of a low level irritant such as a chemical agent, radiation, or toxin.
Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Inflammation
Chronic inflammation can be hard to diagnose since there are no reliable blood tests that can screen for it. Instead, there are some general indicators and risk factors that may indicate chronic inflammation. For example, having a large waist measurement, 35 inches for women and 40 for men, increases the risk for chronic inflammation. Some other indicators of possible inflammation are high triglycerides, high blood pressure and high glucose levels. All together, these indicators suggest the presence of a condition known as metabolic syndrome, which is a precursor for heart disease and diabetes.
Management and Treatment Options
Chronic inflammation is clearly a condition that can dramatically increase the chances of developing a serious health problem such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer. Fortunately, there are several medical and nutritional options for treating and managing chronic inflammation.
For acute inflammation, a physician may prescribe a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as aspirin or ibuprofen. A doctor may also prescribe corticosteroids which work by undermining the body’s mechanisms involved in inflammation.
In addition to medical interventions, there are herbs and foods that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. Hyssop, grapple plant, ginger, turmeric and cannabis are all herbs that have been shown to reduce inflammation. Tart cherry juice, Omega-3 fish oil and green tea are all foods with similar properties.
Chronic inflammation is considered a silent condition since millions of Americans may have it without any outward symptoms. Ongoing, chronic inflammation might eventually lead to some very serious diseases or health problems. Luckily, there are several ways to treat and manage chronic inflammation. In later blog posts I will explore several methods for dealing with chronic inflammation.