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Potentially Harmful Effects of Chronic Inflammation

01 - Aug - 2021 Navarro Medical

A person tending to a sore knee Your chronic inflammation may be taking a greater toll on your health than you realized. Inflammation can cause such obvious symptoms as aches, pains, and tightness. These symptoms are often relieved with over-the-counter medications, stretching exercises, regular deep tissue massage appointments, and other trusted natural remedies. But, without a proper diagnosis and treatment plan, there could be more harmful effects emerging.

What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is a natural response your body has to protect itself against toxins, infections, and injuries. Think of it as an advanced alert system that helps your body guard against further harm. However, while acute inflammation is quite useful, chronic or ongoing inflammation can cause a cascade of issues that prevent organs and tissues from performing important tasks that are necessary to stay healthy and enjoy life to the fullest.

What Causes Inflammation?
The most obvious causes of inflammation include injuries and infection. However, eating processed foods, poor hygiene habits like neglecting to floss daily to remove plaque build-up, high amounts of stress, and a lack of sleep or exercise can also produce an inflammatory response. In other words, anything that is not natural to the body’s normal rhythm and functioning could result in inflammation.

Why Does Chronic Inflammation Need to Be Controlled?
While studies are still being conducted and analyzed regarding the specific role inflammation plays in disease, one thing is clear - this extended high alert response known as chronic inflammation is linked with a negative rippling effect, such as plaque build-up in the arteries, that can lead to a wide array of diseases.

Some examples are as follows:

  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Respiratory Diseases
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • Arthritis

How is Inflammation Treated?
If the inflammation is short in duration commonly referred to as acute inflammation, over-the-counter NSAIDS like aspirin and ibuprofen are often used along with natural remedies like ice packs, chiropractic care, or massage. Such measures may relieve short-term symptoms, such as swelling or pain.

Chronic inflammation may require the use of prescribed corticosteroids like cortisol to reduce the inflammation and allow the body time to heal. While there is no quick fix to chronic inflammation, your primary care physician can help you find some relief and enable your body’s systems to be restored to a more balanced state. Doctors of Osteopathy (DO) can also use special training to locate inflammation that may be hidden from view, which often affords you the opportunity to begin treating your chronic inflammation before it becomes a more serious issue.

Other Ways to Prevent and Combat Chronic Inflammation
In addition to scheduling routine wellness visits with your primary care physician and following treatment plans as prescribed, the good news is there are some things you can do on your own to both treat and prevent chronic inflammation. Examples include eating an anti-inflammatory diet, exercising and stretching daily, reducing stress at work and in the home, and getting plenty of sound sleep.

What is an Anti-Inflammatory Diet & Does it Work?
Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to a healthy way of life without addressing what we eat and drink. An anti-inflammatory diet includes foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and healthy oils. Processed, pre-packaged, and sugary foods can cause an inflammatory response when consumed on a regular basis. If your anti-inflammatory diet is not working as expected, contact your physician as there may be an underlying cause such as ongoing inflammation affecting the way your body absorbs much-needed nutrients, water, and electrolytes. Also, many people are sensitive to specific foods, allergic to specific foods, or simply do not process certain foods well.

Discovering the culprits of your inflammatory response can be tricky. Start your search by sharing your symptoms such as excessive bloating, belching, flatulence, weight gain, hives, or swelling with your primary care physician. Your doctor may suggest a food elimination diet where you eat a restricted diet made up of primarily bland foods that are not known to cause inflammation in most individuals. Eat this way for up to a week to see if your symptoms subside or continue to occur. If your symptoms clear up, you may slowly re-introduce food items back into your diet to help you discern which items are causing the issue.

What Next Step Should You Take to Prevent or Control Chronic Inflammation?
In conclusion, since chronic inflammation is linked with many potentially harmful diseases, it is important to schedule your well visits with your physician on a regular basis and follow your physician’s treatment plan. Preventing inflammation with a healthy diet and lifestyle coupled with getting an early treatment plan in place when inflammation is detected will help you feel at your best each day. If you live in the Lake Wales, Florida area and you are in need of a primary care physician, Dr. Navarro is accepting new patients at Navarro Medical. You may schedule an appointment by using the information found on our contact us page to call or email our friendly team or simply walk in for the next available appointment. Contact us to begin your journey to better health today.