CHERYL A. MAJOR: Different Types of Inflammation

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These days we hear so much about inflammation. Avoid it, reduce it, don’t do things that inflame the body and the mind.  But what exactly is inflammation, what are the different types of inflammation? Is it truly harmful to our health, and if so, why is it so harmful?

Very simply put, inflammation is the body’s reaction to infection or tissue damage. Our bodies respond to send agents to the offended or damaged site in an effort to eliminate the problem and to heal the body.

Inflammation in its true and intended form is a good thing; in fact, it is a protective mechanism design to protect us. Its job is to heal the affected tissues and restore the body to a condition of health.

There are several causes of inflammation. They include biological causes like viruses, bacteria and fungal organisms as well as chemical causes including poisons and toxins.  Physical trauma can also trigger inflammation; a bruise, broken bone or even a splinter can trigger an inflammatory response.  Finally, immune reactions such as those manifested in autoimmune diseases can trigger inflammation although these reactions occur more commonly in chronic inflammation than in acute inflammation.

There are two different types of inflammation, acute and chronic. What is the difference between acute and chronic inflammation?  “Acute inflammation is a rapid host response that serves to deliver leukocytes and plasma proteins, such as antibodies, to sites of infection or tissue injury,” according to Robbins Basic Pathology.

The response to acute inflammation can occur as quickly as within minutes and may only last a few days.  As in the case of a physical trauma, symptoms include but are not limited to redness, swelling, pain and fever. The goal of an acute inflammatory response is to heal the affected area, limiting tissue damage and restoring general health.

“Chronic inflammation is inflammation of prolonged duration (weeks or months) in which inflammation, tissue injury and attempts at repair co-exist, in varying combinations,” according to Robbins Basic Pathology.

Current research studies have pointed to chronic inflammation as the root cause of chronic disease and premature aging.  These chronic diseases include diabetes, obesity (now considered a disease), arthritis, cancer, autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, neurological, degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Chronic inflammation is, as the name suggests, ongoing.  It does not occur, accomplish its appointed task and then dissipate.  It is with us “chronically.”

The challenge here is to determine whether your body is a victim of chronic inflammation or not. One of the best ways to determine your individual level of inflammation is to ask your doctor to include in your blood work a test known as C-reactive protein or CRP. This test gives you a baseline of the measure of inflammation that currently exists in your body. CRP is produced in the liver and testing the blood is how the level of inflammation is measured.

Your goal should be to have your CRP level to be less than 1.0 milligrams per liter which indicates your body is in a low state of inflammation.  If your test result is greater than 1.0 milligrams per liter, your body’s inflammation levels are higher than they should be; as an example, you are at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

To summarize, of the two different types of inflammation, acute inflammation is your body’s friend.  It is triggered when there is some sort of injury whether physical, bacterial, etc. Acute inflammation gets in, gets the job done and gets out.  The nasty part of inflammation is chronic inflammation which is ongoing and which leaves us vulnerable to a whole host of disease and discomfort if we do not take steps to reduce that inflammation.

This article was originally published on my site at

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Cheryl A Major, CNWC

Cheryl A Major lives in Westford and is a Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant. Her TV show, Thin Strong Healthy, airs on WestfordCat and is an offshoot of her blog   Cheryl offers ongoing information and personal health coaching to help you feel better and be healthier.  Follow Cheryl on Twitter @CherylAMajor.  She is also a full time residential Realtor with Coldwell Banker with more than 25 years experience.

 Questions?  Email Cheryl at [email protected] and be sure to put Health Question in the subject line.  Your question and its answer will be included in a future article

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