Chronic Inflammation

What is Inflammation?

Inflammation is one of our immune system’s many natural responses to things that are harming our body. These things can include anything from toxins that we may unintentionally ingest or absorb, injuries, or even infections. But, if inflammation is designed to help us, how does it make us feel so uncomfortable? The pain you feel and redness you observe can be attributed to nerve endings being overstimulated to prevent further damage, and the increase of blood flow to the affected area. An inflamed area may also see swelling, feel warm to the touch, and in some cases be difficult to move. The extra blood supply being sent to the area to bring cells and nutrients to fight infection and take away debris and toxic byproducts of the inflammatory process. This increased blood flow is often observable by an increase in redness of the inflamed tissues. Worry not, these are all ways that your body is working to naturally heal itself when it is in trouble. Unfortunately, this response is not always such a perfect system. These are all symptoms of acute inflammation. These are usually quick to clear up and will only last a matter of hours or days. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is a different beast. Chronic inflammation can present itself in a number of ways different from acute inflammation. Chronically inflamed patients who need chronic inflammation treatment might expect:

  • Fatigue – it takes a toll on the body to sustain chronic inflammation and the toxins generated as part of the process may cause us to feel less energy and even feel depressed
  • Mouth sores – the mucous membranes of our mouths are very vulnerable to invasion because of their thinness and the absorbable nature of the tissue and often reveal an immune system in a hypervigilant state trying to protect us
  • Chest or abdominal pain – as our body takes on some of the responsibility of being in this hypervigilant state along with our immune system – our fight or flight systems are activated and prepare us for just that – fight or flight!
  • Fever – often a sign our immune system is fighting infection – it can sometimes be a sign that the immune system has moved over into a hyperactive state
  • Rash – sometimes a sign of the immune systems over-reactivity and sometimes a sign the body is having trouble dumping the increased levels of toxins generated as part of the tissue destruction that comes along with an overly active immune system.
  • Painful joints – perhaps the least well-understood symptom of chronic inflammation – possibly attributable to what are called immune complexes (a combination of a foreign ((or sometimes endogenous)) antigen and an antibody our body is making to protect us – becoming deposited in the joints themselves.

So What Does It Mean If I Have Chronic Unremitting Inflammation?

When does a “good” inflammatory process that is helping our body return to normal transform into a problem of its own? If after several weeks – the symptoms of inflammation are persisting it is time to consider a number of factors that may have turned this into a problem rather than a solution. Rather than being caused by the body’s attempt to remedy a harmful bacteria or toxin, chronic inflammation may be a sign the body is unable to break down the pathogen in question. This can include viruses, foreign bodies, and intestinal dysbiosis.

Chronic inflammation may also be a consequence of the immune system taking aim ourselves – this is called an autoimmune problem. Chronic inflammation can also represent a deficiency in the body’s own robust system meant to calm or turn off inflammation. We have signaling molecules that turn off inflammation – called cytokines. Sometimes we are not eating enough of the nutrients that make those molecules – a good example being the widespread American dietary insufficiency of Omega 3 fats. There is a complex system of antioxidants that we maintain that are free radical scavengers. Free radicals are generated by inflammation and they create more free radicals which cause more inflammation. Antioxidant molecules “eat up” free radicals. If we are deficient in them – we can’t turn off “the fire”.

Whatever the reason, chronic unremitting inflammation can last months, or even years and can be both debilitating and a cause of great suffering. Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Allergies, Fibromyalgia, Chronic fatigue often suffer from the systemic effects of chronic inflammation.

What Can Be Done About It?

For chronic inflammation treatment, we recommend an evaluation to identify which of the many factors may be contributing to the condition in each individual. Dr. Sharp has been on a quest for over forty-five years to explore the many approaches to understanding and healing core breakdowns in people’s health. The work of functional medicine is to discover what’s going wrong and fix it at the source. Our team of functional medicine professionals will examine all aspects including diet/nutrition, stress, and a number of medical tests to determine the underlying cause of your chronic inflammation and provide only the best chronic inflammation treatment. We believe that once we identify the “why”, the “how” can be properly addressed. It is our mission to actively support and guide each of our clients to lead a healthy and sustainable life in the long run, free from the restrictions that poor health can impose on achieving their goals. Get started with a no-charge welcome call today!