What is inflammation?
Once your body encounters outside invaders or infections such as viruses, bacteria or toxic chemicals, or suffers an injury, your immune system gets activated. Your immune system sends out its initial responders which are inflammatory cells and cytokines.
The inflammatory cells start an inflammatory response to trap the viruses and bacteria and other offending agents or begin healing injured tissue. This can lead to pain, bruising, swelling, or redness. Besides, inflammation also impact body systems that you cannot see.
Types of Inflammation
There are two types of inflammation; acute inflammation and chronic inflammation?
What is the difference between acute inflammation and chronic inflammation?
- Acute inflammation: It is a response to sudden body damage, like cutting your finger. To heal this cut, your immune system sends inflammatory cells to that injury. These cells begin the healing process and it’s short-lived.
- Chronic inflammation: It happens when your body keeps sending inflammatory cells at a time when there is zero outside danger (autoimmune diseases) Rheumatoid arthritis is an example as inflammatory cells and substances attack joint tissues resulting in an inflammation that occurs and reoccurs and can lead to painful severe damage to joints and cause deformities. The same applies to back pain. Chronic inflammation is long-lasting)
What are the symptoms of acute inflammation and chronic inflammation?
Acute inflammation may lead to:
- Pain or tenderness.
- Flushed skin at the site of the injury.
Chronic inflammation symptoms may be difficult to spot compared to acute inflammation symptoms. Symptoms of chronic inflammation may include:
- Chest pain.
- Abdominal pain.
- Joint pain or stiffness. (example: rheumatoid arthritis)
- (example: systemic lupus)
- (example: tuberculosis)
- Skin rash. (example: psoriasis)
- Mouth sores. (example: HIV infection)
What happens when you have an inflammation?
When your body experiences an inflammation, many different immune system cells get triggered. They release numerous substances called inflammatory mediators. Some of them are the hormones bradykinin and histamine. They make the small blood vessels in the tissue to go wider (dilate), which gives room to more blood to enter the injured tissue. That is the reason inflamed areas become red and feel hot.
The increase in blood flow also lets more immune system cells to reach the injured tissue to help with the healing process. Both of these hormones irritate nerves, causing pain signals to be sent to the brain.
The protective function
All this has a protective function because when the inflammation hurts, you tend to protect that particular affected part of your body.
Additionally, the inflammatory mediators have another function which is making it easier for immune system cells to pass out of the small blood vessels. This helps more of them to reach the affected tissue. Besides, the immune system cells also cause more fluid to go into the inflamed tissue. This explains why it usually swells up before the swelling goes down again later once the fluid leaves the tissue.
Mucous membranes as well do release more fluid if they are inflamed. Take for example, when you have a stuffy nose and the membranes lining your nose are inflamed, they release more fluid. This extra fluid can help to quickly flush out the viruses or bacteria from your body.