What Is Inflammation?
|By Petra Trudell, Managing Editor on Monday, August 5, 2013|
|Talk of inflammation seems to be everywhere these days. Learn more
about what inflammation is and how it can affect your health.||
When you hear the word "inflammation," you might think of something being red, swollen or hot to the touch and you're on the right track. But do you understand just exactly why inflammation occurs? Your idea of inflammation may not be complete.
The Basics of Inflammation
Inflammation is our body's way to protect itself against toxins, pathogens, carcinogens and other threats to our health. This reaction is carried out throughout the body in many different ways, all the way down to the cellular level.
To keep it very simple, let's think about the two types of inflammation: acute and chronic. For example, if you bang your knee on the corner of the coffee table and get a scrape on the skin, what happens next? The wound bleeds, swells up and hurts a lot, right? That swelling is acute inflammation and it's meant to bring internal fluid to the area and to help facilitate the healing process. It may take a few days, but that swelling will go away and the skin mends.
Chronic inflammation is also a protective response, but it's long term in nature and is often due to some sort of chronic irritant, an autoimmune issue or by the body being unable to get rid of the cause of acute inflammation.
For example, someone has poor oral hygiene and it leads to gum disease. Initially, there would have been acute inflammation all along the gum line, but since the condition progressed to a condition such as periodontitis, it causes persistent, chronic inflammation of all the oral tissue.
If left to its own devices, chronic inflammation can lead to diseases like arthritis and cancer.
Symptoms of Inflammation
The symptoms of inflammation may not always be obvious, but they include pain, swelling, discoloration, immobility and heat.
When you notice these symptoms, it's important to consider what the underlying cause of the inflammation might be. If you've injured yourself, it may be a wise idea to see a doctor right away, depending on the severity. Though inflammation is meant to help and heal the body, it isn't always wise to let the body take care of things on its own. As previously stated, the acute inflammation can become chronic and the inflammation can lead to other medical issues.
Supplements and Diet
For anyone dealing with chronic inflammation, it's important to consider a diet and supplement routine that can reduce the irritation and swelling. A diet that contains a lot of healthy fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals is often good for reducing the impact of inflammation.
Supplements to consider include the vitamins A, C and E as well as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), coenzyme Q10 and calcium. These nutrients provide antioxidant protection against free radicals that can cause inflammation. Turmeric root is a naturopathic treatment for inflammation as well.
Keep track of your symptoms and talk to your doctor about your treatment options. Pick up the supplements discussed in this story today at eVitamins!
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