Published on July 16th, 2019
Last updated on May 26th, 2020
While most people think of inflammation as a bad thing, the truth is it’s a vital process that our T helper cells (Th) use in producing inflammatory cytokines and macrophages, which helps to protect us from infections. However, problems with inflammation tend to arise from autoimmune diseases. These conditions cause our immune system to trigger an inflammatory response when there are no bacteria or viruses present, which in turn causes damage to our bodies instead.
When any inflammation occurs, chemicals are released into affected tissues, which dramatically increase blood flow. Some of these chemicals essentially cause a leak of fluid into the affected part of the body, which results in sometimes painful swelling. Most people think of inflammation and swelling as the same thing, but the truth is that swelling is just one symptom of inflammation.
People dealing with acute inflammation may sometimes experience redness or joint pain and stiffness in affected parts of the body, and this is particularly true of arthritis. Sometimes, people even report flu-like symptoms with their inflammation, including fever, chills, fatigue, and headaches. For example, osteoarthritis of the hand (HOA), which is more severe than non-erosive HOA, affects the interphalangeal joints, causing pain and sometimes functional impairment. In this case, the inflammatory symptoms include stiffness, soft tissue swelling, and pain. It is important to note that inflammation is a complicated condition as there exist two main types, and each can affect different parts of the body.
For instance, while most people associate inflammation with pain, many forms of inflammation affect internal organs, which lack pain-sensing nerves. Other factors will have a significant impact on how likely you are to experience an unintended inflammatory response, such as your age, weight, diet, and life habits.
Young people are less likely to have inflammation than the elderly, and the heavier you are, the higher your risk. However, less obvious risk factors like smoking, poor diet, or even low sex drive can all be risk factors for chronic inflammation. It is estimated that 43 million people in the United States, and 350 million worldwide, suffer from arthritis and joint diseases.
Inflammation is already a widespread issue, but the number of cases is expected to top 60 million by the end of next year. If you or a loved one thinks they’re dealing with chronic inflammation, be sure to talk to your doctor as soon as possible. The only way to know for sure what you’re dealing with is to get the proper tests along with providing an adequate patient history.