Health & Medicine

Tuesday, 16 June 2020 11:18

What is Inflammation?: The Symptoms, Causes and Detection

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Inflammation

What is inflammation?

According to Harvard Medical School, inflammation is your body’s way of fighting against things that could harm it, such as infections, injuries, and toxins, in order to heal itself. When something damages your cells, your body releases chemicals that trigger a response from your immune system, which includes the release of antibodies and proteins, as well as increased blood flow to the damaged area.But inflammation can be harmful rather than helpful to human health. Evidence has shown that inflammation, which can be influenced by factors such as obesity, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle, contributes to a variety of diseases.

What’s the Difference Between Acute vs Chronic Inflammation?

Acute inflammation happens quickly, usually within minutes, but is usually short-term. Signs of acute inflammation can include pain (continuously or only when the area is touched; redness; loss of function; swelling or heat (where the area is warm to the touch). These signs are not always present because sometimes inflammation does not have any symptoms. A person may also feel tired, generally unwell, and have a fever. Symptoms of acute inflammation last a few days, while subacute inflammation lasts 2–6 weeks.

Unlike acute inflammation, chronic inflammation can have long-term and whole-body effects, and over time, it can have a negative impact on your tissues and organs. In fact, Harvard Medical School claims it plays a central role in some of the most challenging diseases of our time, including rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and even Alzheimer’s. Experts also believe inflammation may contribute to a wide range of chronic diseases, such as metabolic syndrome, which includes type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

Common symptoms of chronic inflammation include fatigue, fever, mouth sores, rashes, abdominal pain and chest pain. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and last for several months or years.

How Do I Reduce Inflammation?

According to Harvard Medical School, doctors advocate that one of the best ways to reduce inflammation is by following an anti-inflammatory diet and avoiding foods that can accelerate inflammatory diseases.

Anti-inflammatory foods include tomatoes, olive oil, green leafy vegetables, nuts, fatty fish and fruits. Fruits and vegetables like blueberries, apples, spinach and kale all contain high natural antioxidants and polyphenols which can protect against inflammation. Harvard Medical School suggests an eating plan that closely follows anti-inflammatory eating, such as a Keto diet or the Mediterranean diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and healthy oils.

A diet that contains high amounts of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup is particularly harmful and can lead to insulin resistance, diabetes, and obesity. Scientists have also found that consuming a lot of refined carbs, such as white bread, may contribute to inflammation, insulin resistance, and obesity. Harvard Medical School suggests avoiding or limiting foods such as refined carbohydrates (white bread and pastries), fried foods, soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages, red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage), as well as margarine.

How Do I Detect or Measure Inflammation?

If there is inflammation in the body, there will be higher levels of substances known as biomarkers, for example C-reactive protein (CRP). In order to test for inflammation, you can take a test to assess your CRP levels.

A CRP test identifies inflammation and/or infection and can also be used to monitor your body’s response during the treatment process. C-reactive protein (CRP) is an "acute phase reactant" that is produced by the liver and starts to circulate within the blood within hours following inflammation (tissue injury). This inflammation can be caused by trauma or a heart attack, autoimmune diseases, and bacterial infection.

The CRP test is usually done on suspicion of an acute inflammatory response either following trauma or infection. It is also used to monitor chronic conditions on treatment such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus to assess if treatment is effective.This test is used to detect the presence of inflammation that may be caused by conditions such as infections, auto-immune diseases and cancers. It is also used as a marker for specific diseases such as temporal arteritis and rheumatoid arthritis and can be used for diagnosis and monitoring of the response to treatment.

An erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) test also measures inflammation present in the body.The test is usually requested in the presence of symptoms such as headaches, neck pain, pelvic pain, low haemoglobin, decreased appetite, weight loss and joint stiffness to confirm a diagnosis related to inflammation. The test is not diagnostic alone and must be interpreted and used in combination with clinical symptoms, signs and other specific investigations e.g. CRP. This test may be used to monitor the response to treatment for both acute and chronic conditions.

The ESR test is usually performed when underlying inflammation related to a disease process is suspected, particularly in people suffering symptoms of headaches, neck pain, pelvic pain, low haemoglobin, decreased appetite, weight loss and joint stiffness.

Book An Inflammation Blood Test Today

If you suspect that you are suffering from inflammation, you can simply order the CRP test and the ESR test online on mybloodtest.co.za today.

Published in Health and Medicine

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