If you fall and scrape your knee, the inflammatory response is activated immediately. White blood cells and fluid rush to your wound, protecting nearby tissue and fighting off infection. You may experience pain, swelling, heat, or tingling as your body heals itself.
If you catch a virus, inflammation will cause fluid to build up throughout your body, triggering coughing, sneezing, and sweating to get rid of the virus. It also initiates fever to immobilize you while you heal. On the one hand, inflammation is a useful bodily function that fights infections and heals injuries, but when it’s malfunctioning, it can have serious long-term health effects.
If you need help dealing with inflammation, call our team today.
Why is Chronic Inflammation Bad For Your Body?
While it is an essential bodily process, inflammation can spin out of control when triggered by factors like an unhealthy lifestyle, stress, or environmental toxins. If left unchecked, inflammation can last long term, causing or worsening injury or illness. Basically, healthy inflammation has an off switch. It only becomes a concern when it doesn’t turn off.
When inflammation doesn’t “turn off,” your immune system mistakenly attacks your body’s cells, causing unnecessary pain and swelling. This can lead to chronic inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, dermatitis, and Crohn’s disease. Chronic inflammation has also been linked to many serious illnesses such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Key Risks of Chronic Inflammation
Chronic inflammation affects every aspect of your health and overall well-being. It affects your mood, causes you pain, and leaves you feeling fatigued. Below we discuss just a few of the ways chronic inflammation impacts your body.
Research has shown that inflammation leads to suppressed insulin-signaling pathways. This makes your body less responsive to insulin and increases your risk for insulin resistance, which is a precursor to diabetes.
Chronic inflammation can lead to subtle changes to the lining of your arteries – changes that you can’t feel. If inflammation damages the lining of your arteries, it makes it difficult for your body to control blood pressure and regulate blood sugar.
Your arteries also respond differently to cholesterol when you have chronic inflammation. This leads to blockages and blood clots, which can cause heart attacks.
Chronic inflammation in the brain disrupts brain function in several ways that can lead to depression. This happens through the slowing down of conduction between neurons, preventing the production of neurotransmitters, and inhibiting neurotransmitter receptor sites – all of which result in depression.
Chronic inflammation can damage your body’s healthy cells and tissue and weaken your immune system. This weakened state can increase your risk of diseases like cancer.
Elevated levels of inflammatory proteins make losing weight difficult. Chronic inflammation can also induce hunger signals and slow your metabolism, causing you to eat more and burn fewer calories.
Chronic inflammation has been linked to visible signs of aging and wrinkle formation. It has also been associated with skin diseases like eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea.
Want to learn more? Watch our free webinar on chronic inflammation.
Link Between Chronic Inflammation and Autoimmune Diseases
Inflammation is at the core of every autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases arise when the immune system continually responds with inflammation. This causes your body to attack its own tissues rather than defending itself from harm. These inflammatory responses create diseases that affect many parts of your body – from your eyes to your heart. Continue reading for a small sampling of autoimmune diseases that have inflammation as a symptom.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: Inflammation in your joints, the tissue surrounding your joints, and sometimes other organs
- Celiac disease: Inflammation of the inner lining of your small intestine
- Crohn’s disease: Inflammation of your gastrointestinal tract
- Grave’s disease: Inflammation of your thyroid gland, muscles behind the eyes, or inflammation of the skin
- Asthma: Inflammation of the airways
The list of diseases and conditions associated with chronic inflammation is almost endless. How chronic inflammation affects your body depends on where and how your immune cells strike.
Sound familiar? We also have a free webinar on autoimmune diseases.
Causes of Chronic Inflammation
So, what causes chronic inflammation? Usually, it’s a combination of issues, many of which are related to your diet and lifestyle. Causes and contributing factors include:
- Poor diet
- Unrecognized food sensitivities
- Exposure to toxins such as mercury or pesticides
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Certain medications
- Chronic stress
- Not enough or too much exercise
- Insufficient sleep
- Gut imbalances
How to Manage Chronic Inflammation
Inflammation is a complex issue. It causes your body’s immune system to be under constant duress, diminishing its ability to fight illnesses. How can you best manage your inflammation and improve your health? Read on to see five natural remedies to improve chronic inflammation symptoms.
- Get more sleep.
Research shows that there is a link between sleep deprivation – even for just one night – and inflammatory responses in your body. If you get less than 7 hours of sleep a night, you could be heading down the path of chronic inflammation.
Tip: Develop relaxing bedtime routines to make sleep easier.
- Eliminate stress.
Prolonged stress decreases your body’s sensitivity to the hormone cortisol. In response, your immune cells won’t respond when cortisol signals your body to turn it off. This turns into out-of-control inflammation.
Tip: Practice meditation and get regular exercise to reduce stress and mitigate inflammation.
- Remove processed foods from your diet.
Concentrated sugars and processed foods elevate your blood sugar and insulin levels, both of which contribute to and exacerbate chronic inflammation.
Tip: Try a detox to remove toxins and reduce the work your body must do to protect you from foods that are harmful to your health.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables.
There is extensive research showing the relationship between diet and inflammation. Simple carbohydrates increase insulin levels and promote inflammation. Trans and saturated fats raise cholesterol and stimulate an inflammatory response in your cardiac tissues.
Tip: Check out anti-inflammatory shopping lists to use as a guide on your next grocery trip.
- Take supplements.
Supplements can aid in restoring balance in the body and reducing chronic inflammation.
Tip: Remember that supplements are just that – supplemental! You can’t supplement your way out of a bad lifestyle.
Functional Medicine Can Also Help With Chronic Inflammation
Since many contributing factors to inflammation are diet and lifestyle-related, functional medicine is an ideal treatment for chronic inflammation. This is because conventional medicine focuses on treating the downstream effects, while functional medicine focuses on the root causes. Functional medicine can help you get to the root cause and correct the system’s imbalances to put you back on track to optimal health.
First, your functional medicine practitioner will work with you to identify the triggers of your inflammation. This involves gathering extensive information about your medical and lifestyle history as well as various tests. Then, the functional medicine doctor will work with you to help your body’s natural immune balance reset by providing the right conditions for it to thrive.
Your treatment plan and educational curriculum will incorporate specialized food plans, lifestyle changes, and supplements that will help restore and retrain your immune system so that you can feel vibrant again.
Battling chronic inflammation? We can help you heal.
Tri-Cities Functional Medicine is located in Johnson City, Tennessee, and serves patients throughout East Tennessee and into Virginia and North Carolina. These areas include but are not limited to: Washington County, TN, Sullivan County, TN, Carter County, TN, Greene County, TN, Knox County, TN, Bristol, TN, Holston Valley, TN, Tri-Cities, TN, Walnut Hill, TN, Elizabethton, TN, Greeneville, TN, Morristown, TN, Blountville, TN, Bluff City, TN, Kingsport, TN, Jonesborough, TN, Colonial Heights, TN, Limestone, TN, Knoxville, TN, Bristol, VA, and Abingdon, VA.