Inflammation the body’s natural response to injury
Inflammation is the body’s reaction to invasion by an infectious agent, antigen or even just physical, chemical or traumatic damage. The inflammatory reaction is one of the body’s oldest defense mechanisms. When damage occurs the body’s automatic defense system starts the inflammatory process within seconds. Blood flow is increased at the point of injury, the blood vessels expands to allow oxygen, clotting agents and white blood cells to penetrate the damaged tissues. Over a period of hours the concentration of white blood cells increases at the point of injury.
Inflammation-The Body’s Natural Response
The body’s reaction to trauma or infection is a defense mechanism, in the same way that our bodies react to stress, with the fight or flight mode. It is an integral part of our system, which is inherent within us to let us know that there is a problem within the body that we need to be aware of. After a sprain or injury, blood flow increases and the vessels expand to allow oxygen, white blood cells and clotting agents to infiltrate and repair the damaged area. It is imperative that this process happens. Without it, healing would not be viable and we would continue to cause more damage to the affected area.
When Inflammation Can Harm
Conditions such as arthritis, asthma, Parkinson’s and cancer have long been associated with chronic inflammation of the system. Inflammation can be caused by a number of things; from lifestyle to general illness. Eating fatty and/or sugary foods and stress are lifestyle factors. The fight or flight mode encourages inflammation so we can deal with stressful episodes in our lives, but if our bodies are dealing with prolonged stress, chronic inflammation sets in. Contracting a virus or bacteria which affects the body’s immune system is another way inflammation can be encouraged. Our immune cells begin to overreact and this is where chronic inflammation can begin, causing untold damage and sowing the seeds for more persistent and life-changing conditions.
Symptoms of inflammation vary depending on whether the reaction is acute or chronic. The effects of acute inflammation can be summed up by the acronym PRISH. They include:
- Pain: The inflamed area is likely to be painful, especially during and after touching. Chemicals that stimulate nerve endings are released, making the area more sensitive.
- Redness: This occurs because the capillaries in the area are filled with more blood than usual.
- Immobility: There may be some loss of function in the region of the inflammation.
- Swelling: This is caused by a buildup of fluid.
- Heat: More blood flows to the affected area, and this makes it feel warm to the touch.