Surprising Signs of Inflammation

Inflammation is usually a sign that your body’s immune system is at work. When it has detected the type of illnesses and injuries that cause inflammation, your immune system responds by sending out, among other things, inflammatory cells. These cells’ job is to contain bacteria and heal tissue, but this amazing work is accompanied, unfortunately, by symptoms of inflammation.

The obvious acute symptoms of inflammation are typically pain, tenderness, swelling, redness or flushing, fever and bruising. A person suffering from inflammation may also experience a sensation of heat at the area of inflamed tissue.

When inflammation persists, it becomes chronic inflammation. Signs of chronic inflammation or chronic inflammatory diseases go beyond the obvious signs associated with acute inflammation. Many signs of chronic inflammation can be quite surprising and include:

Persistent fatigue – If you are getting enough sleep each night and are still tired every day, you could be experiencing chronic inflammation or have an underlying chronic inflammatory disease. These conditions include things like rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus and others. Fortunately, many of these illnesses are treatable, so talk to your doctor if you’ve had low energy or ongoing fatigue.

Rashes – In addition to swelling, bruising and redness, chronic inflammation can result in some types of skin rashes like that experienced with psoriasis. A purple, lacy rash, usually on the arms and legs, can also be a sign of chronic inflammation. This rash, called livedo reticularis, can accompany chronic inflammatory diseases like lupus and antiphospholipid syndrome.

Cardiovascular system troubles – Ongoing inflammation such as that caused by a physical trauma or disease can increase blood clotting. Unfortunately, this can trigger anything from additional swelling to stroke or heart events. Chronic inflammation is also linked to hardened arteries caused by an increase in fatty plaque buildup within the arteries. This plaque buildup is the primary cause of strokes and heart attacks. Since hardened arteries present no symptoms, it’s important to have an ongoing relationship with a primary care doctor who can screen you for risk factors.

Memory and focus problems – Researchers aren’t yet sure exactly why, but chronic inflammation appears to take a toll on your ability to focus and remember things. In fact, inflammation is also suspected to contribute to diseases that cause dementia.

Joint and muscle pain, weakness or stiffness – From lower back stiffness to knee stiffness and hip pain, a variety of joint and muscle ailments can be attributed to chronic inflammation such as that caused by rheumatoid arthritis. If you are experiencing these ongoing signs of inflammation, schedule a visit with your doctor. 

Stomach woes – If your intestines or colon are inflamed, the result can be stomach upset, nausea and diarrhea. Your gastrointestinal system inflammation can be caused by things like inflammatory bowel disease, so get to a doctor if your diarrhea and other symptoms cannot be attributed to foods you are eating or an illness.

Trouble with balance – In severe cases, your immune system can overreact. In this situation, inflammatory cells can attack your body’s nervous system, causing dizziness and trouble balancing.

Insulin resistance – If inflammation interferes with the functioning of your body’s natural insulin, it can cause insulin resistance, which can lead to high blood sugar. When your blood sugar is high, you are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, nerve damage and poor blood circulation.

If left to persist, chronic inflammation can ultimately have life-threatening consequences. If you are experiencing any of these ongoing signs of inflammation, schedule an appointment with your doctor right away.

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