Medical Terminology

What Is Inflammation?

What Is Inflammation and How it occurs? Acute and Chronic Types of Inflammation and How it affects the body? 

What Is Inflammation?

Inflammation is an important part of the body’s immune system’s response to injury and infection. It is the body’s way of passing the information to the immune system to heal and repair damaged tissue, as well as defend itself against foreign invaders, like viruses and bacteria.

In easy words, Inflammation refers to the body’s process of fighting against factors that harm it, like infections, injuries, and toxins, in an attempt to heal it. When something damages the cells, the body releases chemicals that trigger a response from the immune system.

What Is Inflammation?

Without the inflammation as a body’s physiological response, wounds would fester, and infections could become deadly. However, if the inflammatory process goes on for a longer duration or if it occurs in the part where it is not needed, it can become problematic.

Chronic inflammation has been associated with certain diseases like heart disease or stroke, and may also lead to autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. But a healthy and balanced diet and lifestyle can help keep inflammation under the control.

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Acute inflammation

Acute inflammation develops after a cut on the knee, a sprained ankle or a sore throat. It’s a short-term response with localized effects, means it works at the exact place where a problem exists.

The signs of acute inflammation are swelling, redness, heat and sometimes pain and loss of function, as per the National Library of Medicine.

In the case of an acute type of inflammation, blood vessels dilate, blood flow increases and white blood cells (WBC) moves to the injured area to promote healing, said Dr. Scott Walker, a family physician at Gunnison Valley Hospital in Utah. This response is the only reason for the injured area to turn red and become swollen.

During acute inflammation, chemicals called cytokines are released by the damaged tissue. The cytokines play a role as “emergency signals” which bring in your body’s immune cells, hormones and nutrients in order to fix the problem.

In addition, hormone-like substances called prostaglandins create blood clots in order to heal damaged tissue, and they also trigger pain and fever as part of the healing process. As the body starts to heal, the acute inflammation and its symptoms gradually subside.

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Chronic inflammation

Unlike acute inflammation, chronic inflammation may have long-term and full-body effects. Chronic inflammation is a slower and typically less severe form of inflammation. It generally lasts longer than 6 weeks.

It can develop even when there’s no injury, and it doesn’t always end up with the illness or injury is healed. Chronic inflammation has been associated with autoimmune disorders and even prolonged stress.

Over the time period, chronic inflammation may have a negative impact on the tissues and organs of the body. Some studies suggest that chronic inflammation could also play a role in a range of conditions, from cancer to asthma.

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