Inflammation is a normal process in which the body’s immune system responds to pain or injury. In fact, inflammation is the body’s way of healing following a bacterial or viral infection, injury, or a cut among others. This response lasts a few days after which your bodily functions largely return to normal with minimal side effects.
However, sometimes, inflammation can be chronic, going on for long periods and resulting in adverse physical effects. When this happens, there is a problem.
Chronic inflammation occurs when normal inflammation becomes an ongoing, albeit low-level process that takes place inside your body. Even though this type of inflammation is low-key, its effects are serious and could damage your health severely.
In essence, the ongoing inflammation inside your body happens because the immune system is unable to turn off and stop the inflammatory process long after the injury or infection has healed.
This results in the immune systems fighting against the body’s healthy tissues and damaging healthy body organs and processes all the while. This is the root cause of autoimmune diseases, which can affect everything from the heart, the digestive system, your gut, joints, and even the lungs.
Unfortunately, many people do not know that they have inflammation inside the body and therefore are unable to understand why they have certain chronic symptoms.
The good news is that your physician can conduct some tests to help determine whether you have inflammation inside your body.
External Signs Of Inflammation Inside Your Body
Several external symptoms could be an indication of internal inflammation.
Rashes and Eczema
If you are constantly battling eczema and strange rashes, this could be a sign that you have inflammation in the body. The two conditions are actually categorized as autoimmune inflammatory skin conditions but advanced treatment regimens can prevent the molecular activity that causes these conditions, therefore minimizing symptoms.
Common factors that cause acne include bacteria, excessive production of sebum, and clogged pores. However, a lesser-known cause of acne is inflammation.
In particular, acne rosacea and cystic acne, two of the most painful types of acne are related to stress and inflammation caused by hormonal activity.
This type of acne does not respond to topical medication and instead requires a powerful dose of retinoids, antibiotics, and regulation of hormonal activities in the body.
Painful Shin Bumps
Red, painful bumps on the shinbone are one among the several symptoms of an inflammatory autoimmune disease known as Crohn’s disease.
Crohn’s is characterized by inflammation of the intestinal tract which can result in symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating, anal and oral ulcers and fissures, swollen limps, and shin bumps.
Another inflammatory autoimmune disease that can cause bumps on the skin is celiac disease. Celiac disease is prevalent in people who are intolerant to gluten and can wreak havoc on the gastrointestinal system.
Celiac disease may also result in itchy and often painful bumps on the scalp, back of the neck, elbows, knees, and buttocks. Anti-inflammatory topical medicine and avoidance of gluten can alleviate the symptoms.
Psoriasis is yet another skin condition that results from inflammation inside your body. According to medical experts, psoriasis occurs when the white blood cells release chemicals that cause inflammation resulting in itchy, red, and swollen skin that causes the skin to dry and flake excessively. Psoriasis requires continued management using both oral and topical medication.
Light sensitivity could be a symptom of lupus, which is an autoimmune inflammatory condition. Other lupus symptoms include hair loss, mouth sores, scars on the skin, butterfly-shaped rashes on the cheeks and nose, and photosensitivity.
Medications that suppress the activity of the immune system help to manage lupus symptoms. If you notice a strange butterfly-shaped rash on your face, consult your doctor, as this might be an early sign of the onset of an autoimmune disorder.
Puffy eyelids can be as a result of an allergic reaction and this can cause inflammation inside your body. Allergies may also cause your eyes to itch and tear. Steroids and antihistamines can help to treat allergic reactions.
Many factors may contribute to hair loss and inflammation is among these factors. Interestingly, different types of inflammation cause different types of hair loss.
For example, inflammation around the hair follicle results from alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition that affects many people. Symptoms include patches of hair loss on the scalp, beard, and even eyebrows. In severe cases, this autoimmune inflammatory condition may result in complete hair loss.
Your joints may swell following an injury and this is normal. However, when your joints are constantly swollen, this could be an indication of an underlying inflammatory disease such as arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout.
Any of these conditions can cause your joints to appear swollen and red, and will often feel hot to the touch and painful.
Scientific studies show that depression is associated with inflammation in the brain. Inflammation can also worsen symptoms of depression such as insomnia, loss of appetite, low mood, and fatigue.
Although more studies are required to determine the relationship between inflammation and low energy or sleep problems, scientists posit that minute proteins known as cytokines may be responsible for the loss of appetite some people experience due to depression.
When inflammation affects the lungs, the result may be chronic conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, respiratory infections, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and asthma. Inflammation in the lungs causes fluid to accumulate and constricts the airways, therefore making breathing difficult.
Scientific research shows that bone loss and retarded bone growth have a close association with chronic inflammation. Researchers suggest that cytokines in the body interfere with the process with which new bones form to replace old and damaged bones.
Additionally, inflammation in the gut can interfere with the digestion, assimilation, and distribution of nutrients such as vitamin D and calcium, which are vital to bone growth.
Cytokines have also been associated with insulin production, which results in an increase in blood sugar and insulin resistance. A high blood sugar level causes white blood cells to attack, which results in further inflammation and more insulin resistance. Insulin resistance can also predispose one to sudden weight gain.
Constipation is often a sign of Crohn’s disease complications. Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease resulting from inflammation of different parts of the digestive tract. Ulcerative colitis, which is also associated with inflammation of the large intestines, can also result in chronic constipation.
If you are a male, certain inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis may predispose you to the risk of erectile dysfunction. Scientists speculate that these diseases inflame small blood vessels in the penis, which then interferes with blood flow.
Medications used to treat inflammatory diseases can also interfere with sexual health and a person’s overall health.
Gum disease is associated with a host of health problems including stroke, heart disease, and diabetes among others. With more research, scientists are beginning to make a connection between systemic health and periodontal diseases and findings are increasingly showing that inflammation could be a factor.
While plaque buildup does play a role in the development of gum disease, findings are beginning to show that chronic inflammation as a response mechanism to bacterial infection could also play a role in severe symptoms of gum disease such as receding gum line, bone loss, swelling, and bleeding.
Researchers posit that chronic inflammation could be a cause of the health issues that come about due to periodontal diseases.
Interestingly, many of these health issues are categorized as inflammatory diseases and include kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis among others.
Fatigue is often directly associated with low-grade, systemic, but chronic inflammation. Recent studies show that inflammation has an impact on your brain, body, and behavior, which can predispose you to fatigue.
Clinical results show that people who are fatigued have higher blood markers of inflammation including cytokines and C-reactive proteins. The chemical compounds in the body may also trigger other conditions associated with excessive tiredness and poor overall health.
Additionally, inflammation also affects the nervous system and the brain, which can trigger a chain of biological events in an attempt to regulate stress hormones. All of these may present as chronic fatigue.
Because chronic inflammation is silent and low-grade, knowing that you have inflammation inside your body can be difficult. You may also battle with strange ongoing symptoms that do not seem to resolve.
Testing for inflammation is often the first step toward treating or managing most autoimmune diseases. If you notice any strange visible signs such as ongoing swelling, pain, and rashes speak to your doctor immediately.