Inflammation is caused by the immune system when it attacks foreign invaders, such as bacteria or viruses. It is also associated with chronic conditions like arthritis, asthma, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Inflammation matters in many diseases. Inflammation is one of the most common reasons people visit the doctor. Find out more about inflammation.
Inflammation is a process by which the body’s white blood cells and substances they produce protect us from infection with foreign organisms, such as bacteria and viruses. However, in some diseases, like arthritis, the body’s defence system the immune system triggers an inflammatory response when there are no foreign invaders to fight off. In these diseases, called autoimmune diseases, the body’s normally protective immune system causes damage to its own tissues. The body responds as if normal tissues are infected or somehow abnormal.
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What are the signs of inflammation?
Fatigue, fever, mouth sores, rashes, abdominal pain, and chest pain are the most common early signs of inflammation.
What blood test for inflammation in the body?
The most common way to measure inflammation is to conduct a blood test for C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) and ESR, which is a marker of inflammation. Doctors also measure homocysteine levels to evaluate chronic inflammation.
What Diseases are Associated with an Inflammation?
Some types of arthritis result from misdirected inflammation. Arthritis is a general term that describes inflammation in the joints. Some types of arthritis associated with inflammation include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Gouty arthritis
Other painful conditions of the joints and musculoskeletal system that may not be associated with inflammation include osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, muscular low back pain, and muscular neck pain.
What are the Symptoms of an inflammation?
Symptoms of inflammation include:
- Swollen joint that’s sometimes warm to the touch
- Joint pain
- Joint stiffness
- Loss of joint function
Often, only a few of these symptoms are present. Inflammation may also be associated with general flu-like symptoms, including:
- Fatigue/loss of energy
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle stiffness
What causes an inflammation?
When inflammation occurs, chemicals from the body’s white blood cells are released into the blood or affected tissues to protect your body from foreign substances. This release of chemicals increases the blood flow to the area of injury or infection and may cause redness and warmth. Some chemicals cause a leak of fluid into the tissues, resulting in swelling. This protective process may stimulate nerves and cause pain.
The increased number of cells and inflammatory substances within the joint cause irritation, swelling of the joint lining and, eventually, wearing down of cartilage (cushions at the end of bones).
Can an inflammation affect internal organs?
Yes. Inflammation can affect organs as part of an autoimmune disorder. The type of symptoms depends on which organs are affected. For example:
- Inflammation of the heart (myocarditis) may cause shortness of breath or fluid retention.
- Inflammation of the small tubes that transport air to the lungs may cause shortness of breath.
- Inflammation of the kidneys (nephritis) may cause high blood pressure or kidney failure.
- Inflammation may affect to your liver functions as well.
Pain may not be a primary symptom of an inflammatory disease, since many organs do not have many pain-sensitive nerves. Treatment of organ inflammation is directed at the cause of inflammation.
How are Inflammatory Diseases Diagnosed?
Inflammatory diseases are diagnosed after careful evaluation of:
Complete medical history and physical exam with attention to:
- The pattern of painful joints and whether there is evidence of inflammation
- Presence of joint stiffness in the morning
- Evaluation of other symptoms
- Results of X-rays
- Results of blood tests
Inflammation Blood Tests
- ESR (An erythrocyte sedimentation rate) Test
- CRP–C-reactive protein (CRP) is a blood test marker for inflammation in the body.
Chronic inflammation happens when this response lingers, leaving your body in a constant state of alert. Over time, chronic inflammation may have a negative impact on your tissues and organs. Some research suggests that chronic inflammation could also play a role in a range of conditions, from cancer to asthma.
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