Inflammation is an incredibly powerful function of your body. It generally occurs when it is fighting something and trying to heal itself, increasing circulation and sending white blood cells to the site of an infection or injury to address a problem and make it go away. Your body uses it to battle things such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. It can even use inflammation as a tool to eject harmful irritants like splinters. The whole process generally lasts somewhere between a few hours and a few days.
However, in some cases inflammation can become chronic, which actually has a negative impact on your overall health and well-being. This occurs when your body remains in a state of being alert and the response lingers for a long time. You can tell if a disease is caused by inflammation if it ends in “itis,” for example, bronchitis, cystitis, dermatitis, diverticulitis, and so on. Chronic inflammation can also cause other disorders, ranging from arthritis to asthma, cancer, diabetes, mental illness, and more. That’s why it’s so important to find and treat the root cause as quickly as possible.
Here at Tri-Cities Functional Medicine, we take a holistic approach to restoring your health and well-being. This includes a thorough physical exam, detailed history, in-depth labs and tests, as well as health coaching to provide support on your journey and education on lifestyle and environmental factors that could be impacting your health. Our goal is to empower you to live an abundant life free from the pain and long-term negative effects associated with inflammation.
We’re based in Johnson City, Tennessee, and we work with people living throughout the Tri-Cities area, including Bristol, Kingsport, Knoxville, Greenville, and Abingdon (in Virginia).
Want to take action? Schedule a free discovery call today.
What are the Major Signs of Inflammation?
Inflammation can typically be identified by five symptoms: redness, swelling, heat, pain, and loss of function. The severity can range widely, from mild discomfort to debilitating pain that can reduce your quality of life. If you’re suffering from bronchitis, for example, you may find breathing difficult. If you’re living with dermatitis, you may find the symptoms uncomfortable and embarrassing.
However, it’s not always that clear. Severe inflammation can cause a range of other symptoms, including fatigue, a general feeling of being unwell, and fevers. Fighting infections and foreign objects takes a lot of energy, so your metabolism may increase to match the level required.
On top of that, while these symptoms are usually quite clear in acute cases, they can be less obvious in chronic cases, which makes them easy to overlook. They can go undiagnosed for months or even years, leaving you looking for answers and knowing that something just isn’t quite right.
That’s why we do what we do. Life is too short to live in pain, so if you’re tired of living with the symptoms of chronic inflammation, it may be time to consider a functional medicine approach.
Curious to learn more? Watch our free webinar on inflammation and chronic pain.
What is an Autoimmune Disease?
Chronic inflammation slowly damages your body. If the original threat has been resolved – for example, your body has successfully fought off a virus – but the inflammation remains, there’s nothing left to heal. This means the cells that normally protect your body can begin to destroy healthy arteries, organs, and joints over time. This is commonly referred to as an autoimmune disease and this is what gives rise to the serious conditions we described at the start.
Autoimmune diseases are complex and symptoms can vary from day to day. Some common types you may have heard of include rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, multiple sclerosis, Hashimoto’s disease, Grave’s disease, Crohn’s disease, lupus, vasculitis, and colitis.
A big part of the work we do with practice members experiencing chronic inflammation and autoimmune diseases is to identify what triggers a response. Once we do this, we can take steps to eliminate or control the cause, helping you regain your health so you can resume your life.
Is functional medicine right for you? Read more about our approach.
How do You Get Rid of Inflammation?
A traditional medical approach might see your primary care physician prescribe anti-inflammatory medication or immunosuppressants. This can be an effective way to mask symptoms, however, it doesn’t treat the root cause of the problem and you may not get better over time.
On top of that, anti-inflammatory drugs can come with uncomfortable side effects, ranging from stomach pain and heartburn to headaches, dizziness, ringing in the ears, allergic reactions such as rashes and difficulty breathing, high blood pressure, and more. Meanwhile, drugs that suppress your immune system lower your body’s natural defences and increase your risk of getting sick. Our view is that these are not sufficient long-term solutions, because they don’t actually restore your health.
What can you do to start feeling better? Once you identify what’s triggering your symptoms, you can make changes to reduce inflammation, increase your overall health and well-being, and improve your body’s natural resilience. We’re going to break it down into three categories:
- Overhaul Your Diet
Food is the fuel your body needs to thrive and certain foods have proven inflammatory and anti-inflammatory properties. This means cutting back on things like red meat, foods with high fat and oil content, highly processed foods, and sugar. This includes things like bread, pasta, and anything with high fructose corn syrup. Instead, focus on incorporation more fruits and vegetables into your diet, as well as things high in omega-3 fatty acids. This includes fish, nuts, seeds, and plant oils.
- Start Moving More
As a general rule, people who are overweight experience higher levels of inflammation than people who are within a healthy weight range. Exercising regularly can make a huge difference to your overall health and well-being while stimulating your body’s production of natural anti-inflammatory substances. This doesn’t mean you have to become a marathon runner or a champion Cross-Fitter. Simply start by moving for 30 minutes every day and you’ll quickly feel the benefits.
- Actively Reduce Stress
Chronic stress increases the levels of cortisol in your body, which is a hormone that helps regulate your body’s inflammatory response. Over time, this means that inflammation can become a response to stress. If you’re constantly experiencing high levels of stress, it may be time to modify your lifestyle. Things like meditation and yoga can be good tools, but you could also look at the impact things like workload have on both your mental health and your physical well-being.
Want to start your journey? Call our team to discuss membership.
Why Choose Tri-Cities Functional Medicine?
You deserve an abundant life with optimal health and overall well-being. It’s as simple as that. Our medical director, Dr. Joseph Radawi, is a board-certified family medicine physician who spent a decade practicing emergency medicine before starting Tri-Cities Functional Medicine. He began looking for alternatives to the traditional health care model when he saw the significant impact chronic diseases were having on the lives of his patients and their families. He was drawn to functional medicine because it didn’t just put band-aids on complex health issues – instead, it seeks to find genuine answers and real solutions to restore each person’s vitality from the inside out.
Imagine a world where pain doesn’t stop you from doing the things you love. Where you’re not constantly fatigued without knowing why. Where you’re not always feeling unwell. Where you have full function throughout your body, plenty of energy, and you feel strong and healthy. It sounds good, doesn’t it? The truth is it’s possible to feel that way again. We’re here to give you hope.
Want more information? Watch our free webinar to find out about treatment options.