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Inflammation, The Body's First Line of Defense

April 23, 2011

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Have you ever experienced red, painful, swelling in a body part? This reaction in the body is called inflammation. Inflammation is a normal response by the body to start the healing process. Inflammation can occur for many reasons and be classified as chronic or acute. Although the body regulates inflammation automatically, chronic inflammation can lead to a host of additional diseases. Therefore inflammation should be closely monitored to make sure it doesn’t persist longer than necessary.



            Inflammation is the body’s way of protecting itself against harmful stimulus such as pathogens, toxins or irritants. Acute inflammation is the initial response to injury or disease that appears within minutes or hours after entering the body. When acute inflammation occurs plasma and leukocytes (white blood cells) move to the area of injury. Chemical reactions with in the cells and tissue cause five distinct characteristics to appear. The five signs of inflammation are pain, redness, immobility, swelling and heat. As blood flow to the affected area increases, redness and heat appear. The more blood and fluid in the cells and tissues causes swelling.  As the body releases chemicals the nerve endings are stimulated which causes pain. Once the injurious stimuli have been removed then inflammation and all of its symptoms will cease.



           Acute inflammation has many causes such as physical injury, disease, toxins, chemicals and irritants. Burns, cuts, scrapes, scratches or broken bones all cause acute inflammation to occur quite rapidly with in the body. Chemical irritants, toxins, and radiation depending upon exposure and hazardousness may cause instant instant inflammation or may appear over a longer period of time.  Infections, pathogens, foreign bodies, viruses, bacteria and hypersensitivity may be delayed in showing signs of inflammation because they infect the body internally.



            If inflammation persists because the stimuli cannot be removed then chronic inflammation will follow. Chronic inflammation can last for days, weeks, months or even years. It can also lead to a variety of inflammatory disease such as hay fever, atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. Chronic inflammation produces a reaction in the body to simultaneously destroy and heal the tissue. As a result fibrosis occurs which causes collagen production and ultimately scar tissue formation.  Chronic inflammation is a disease and should be treated immediately to avoid any further formation of wounds or disease.



            In acute inflammation resolution occurs over a period of days. Tissue is restored to normal appearance after regeneration and healing is complete. Cellular blood flow, returns to normal and white blood cells return to normal status within the body. Pain, redness welling should completely stop and mobility should be completely restored. However in cases where chronic inflammation occurs, whether from the start of from acute inflammation, a resolution can take longer and be more difficult. Cellular destruction, fibrosis, scar tissue and abscess formation are likely outcomes that can accompany chronic inflammation. Treatment of chronic inflammation involves m, anti inflammatories, changes in diet and exercise. Consult your physician to determine the best treatment path.