Buzzword Breakdown: Inflammation. What is inflammation?

Buzzword Breakdown: Inflammation. What is inflammation?

It seems like you can’t go anywhere these days without hearing buzzwords like “superfood” or “probiotic” or “antioxidant”. Feeling like the last person on earth to know what they actually mean?? You’re not alone, my friend. That’s why we created the buzzword breakdown – a safe space where we lay it out for you in black + white. No more buzzword blunders on our watch!

Inflammation:

Inflammation is your body’s way of fighting off foreign invaders and helping repair the damage. Without it, pathogens and bacteria could easily take over.

There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic.

When you get a cut on your finger and it swells and becomes inflamed and red, that’s acute inflammation – your body’s way of healing itself by sending its little white blood cell soldiers to the scene of the crime. A couple days and you’re good as new.

Chronic inflammation is different. It’s persistent, often relatively asymptomatic and long-term, occurring when the body mobilizes its little soldiers in response to a perceived threat that doesn’t actually require the typical rolling out of the white-blood-cell troops. When the blood cells arrive and get confused as to what they’re supposed to be doing, they sometimes wage war on healthy internal organs or other tissues and cells. Other times, there is a real threat, but since we don’t feel it or the resultant inflammatory response, the inflammation can go on forever unchecked, as we don’t even realize there’s a problem that needs fixing.

Chronic inflammation is caused by many things: stress, poor diet, a lack of exercise, excess weight, smoking, excessive drinking, environmental pollution, and a whole host of other factors that doctors haven’t even necessarily pinpointed yet.

Chronic inflammation has been tied to conditions and illnesses like arthritis, lupus, allergies, asthma, bowel diseases, Crohn’s disease, autoimmune diseases, chronic fatigue, Alzheimer’s, cancer and even depression.

So what can you do if you’re not experiencing obvious symptoms, but suspect chronic inflammation? Ask your doctor to administer a C-reactive protein (CRP) test. If your levels are elevated, there is inflammation occurring. Then, when you know what the problem is, you can work with your healthcare providers to develop an effective treatment plan.

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