Inflammation is our immune system’s answer to any kind of threat present in our body. This process helps defeat and clear our bodies from infections, toxic substances, and injuries.
What is chronic inflammation, then? In simple terms, it’s basically an inflammatory process that doesn’t let up even after a long time.
The NCBI (National Center For Biotechnology Information) has defined chronic inflammation as: “A slow, long-term inflammation lasting for prolonged periods of several months to years.”
According to the same NCBI article, an average of 3 out of 5 people die due to chronic inflammatory diseases globally. Therefore it’s very important to know the signs that can tell whether or not you are suffering from chronic inflammation.
In this article, we are going to discuss seven common signs of chronic inflammation. That can help to diagnose whether or not you are suffering from a longstanding inflammatory process.
What Are The 7 Signs Of Chronic Inflammation?
The inflammatory process is our body’s way of sending us a message, the message being that something’s not right.
There are many signs of chronic inflammation, and the manifestations may be different in some individuals. However, the most common signs and symptoms are:
- Lethargy or chronic fatigue
- General body or joint pains
- Depression or other temperament disorders
- Weight gain
- Digestive system troubles
- Skin changes
- Respiratory symptoms
Lethargy Or Chronic Fatigue
Much like how you feel tired when down with a fever, chronic inflammation can make you feel chronically fatigued. In chronic inflammatory states, the feeling of tiredness remains even despite having a good amount of sleep daily.
This happens because of the long-standing inflammation. Your immune system works beyond its natural limits, and eventually, your body becomes exhausted and energy depleted.
The body requires more energy to recover the immune system’s lost cells, which also causes chronic fatigue.
Lifestyle changes might help alleviate the feeling of chronic tiredness. Adequate sleep, exercise, and a healthy diet might help in making you feel energized. Immune-boosting supplements might help as well.
General Body Or Joint Pains
The constant inflammation can also lead to generalized body pain and aches. The increased levels of inflammatory substances can lead to damage of muscles and joints. The injury can then lead to the classic triad of dolor (pain), rubor (redness), and tumor (swelling).
One of the most common chronic inflammatory diseases is Arthritis. This disease commonly leads to painful and swollen joints and sore muscles. The common site of joint pain in Arthritis patients is in the small joints of the hands and feet and the large knee joint.
Therefore if you are suffering from the generalized body, muscle, or joint pains without any previous history suggestive of injury, then it’s highly likely you’re affected by chronic inflammation.
Depression Or Other Temperament Disorders
Many studies suggest that depression and inflammation are closely related. Many people suffering from chronic inflammation often show some sort of psychological changes.
One study from Frontiers in Neuroscience even found that people with clinical depression have substantially higher levels of IL-1, TNF-alpha, and CRP (C reactive protein), all of which are inflammatory markers. At the same time, depressive symptoms were also successfully treated in some patients through anti-inflammatory drugs.
Obesity and weight gain are directly related to increased inflammation. A recent study found that C-reactive protein (CRP), a major inflammation marker, increases proportionally as weight increases.
Increased weight seems to cause increased inflammation, and likewise, losing weight helps bring the levels of inflammatory markers down.
Therefore it’s always safer to keep a check on our weights and reduce our chances of gaining excess weight. If you’re already overweight, then you should definitely consider losing a few pounds before it’s too late.
Digestive System Troubles
Diseases such as Crohn’s or IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) cause chronic inflammation. People suffering from inflammation of the bowels can encounter bloating, excessive diarrhea, cramps, and stomach pain.
These signs, if constantly present, might indicate a chronic inflammatory process being present in the body. These manifestations occur due to the inflammation irritating the normal gut lining and irreversibly damaging it.
Sometimes taking in excessive amounts of painkillers and alcohol can also lead to similar symptoms. If you do not have such a history yet still have these symptoms, it might be time to reach out to your doctor for a checkup.
Rashes could be because of inflammation of the skin. Common diseases like psoriasis and eczema cause our skin to peel off, turn red, and itch.
Many skin diseases occur due to our immune system becoming hyperactive and increasing the number of pro-inflammatory cells.
This leads to rashes forming, and if you find such rashes on your body, it might be a sign of a deeper inflammatory process existing inside your body.
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Respiratory symptoms such as cough, runny nose, constant sneezing, or difficulty breathing might indicate a chronic respiratory inflammatory process.
Chronic bronchitis, an inflammation of the respiratory airways, and other long-standing diseases can also result in an overproduction of mucus. This occurs as a defense mechanism to protect the sensitive respiratory lining.
The excess mucus production can cause coughing and a runny nose, which is a less than pleasant experience.
Our body is complicated and carries out complex processes that many researchers are still trying to figure out. One such highly researched topic is the inflammatory process.
Finding the root cause of the inflammation is essential in treating it. But the first step is realizing if you have chronic inflammation in the first place.
There are many different manifesting signs and symptoms, and not every individual will have the same ones. If you experience any worrying signs, going to healthcare professionals is always the safest bet.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a proper diet, exercise, sleep schedule, and low stress levels are always key in helping bring down inflammation.