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HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU'RE INFLAMED?

I was recently speaking with one of my 1:1 clients about inflammation when she stopped me mid-sentence to insist that she definitely doesn't have inflammation because when she "gets a cut, it heals quickly".

SO NOT SO!

Inflammation is actually referred to as The Silent Killer...

Inflammation often falls below the threshold of perceived pain. That's what makes it so dangerous. It can smolder for years, if not decades, eventually erupting into what we call chronic disease.

Today we're talking in general terms about a). the different types of inflammation, b). the common causes of inflammation and c). how do you know if you're inflamed?

It's a giant topic, inflammation, so we're going to break it up. Please remember to check out Part 2: How to Reduce Inflammation.

SO... let's get right in to it with the BIGGIES:

Did you know that depression, cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, dementia, allergies, asthma, chronic fatigue, autoimmune disease are all inflammatory diseases?

All your little niggling injuries and especially back pain are also hugely impacted by inflammation.

Back pain is the sixth most costly condition in the United States and nearly eight percent of all adults (65 million Americans!) have recently reported an episode of back pain.

I often tell my clients that inflammation is like the game of Jenga (that's the wooden stacking game featured in the photo, above).

Although our bodies can usually handle the occasional immune activation, too many stressors at once can overload our immune system, often causing pain and definitely hindering your ability to heal.

Here's an example: Let’s say you’ve got allergies, then you get a sinus infection, then you sprain your ankle or hurt your back. Not only will you be feeling crappy but... that feeling crappy moment may last longer than it needs to because it's harder to clear up any one healing crisis if additional stressors keep stacking up.

TYPES OF INFLAMMATION

There are two types of inflammation:

  • Acute inflammation

When your body experiences a sudden damaging event, like when you cut your finger, acute inflammation sets in. In order to heal the cut, your body sends inflammatory cells to the injury, which then initiate the healing process.

If everything's working well, when the acute danger passes and the body has sufficiently healed the wound, inflammation tames down. This is a good thing.

  • Chronic inflammation

Inflammation can become chronic when your body’s own inflammatory processes are constantly switched “on”.

In some instances, this happens because you're experiencing constant or recurring stressors, but chronic inflammation can also set in when your inflammatory system becomes dysregulated.

In both situations, your body continues sending out inflammatory cells, whether you need it or not.

Back pain and rheumatoid arthritis and are both good examples of chronic inflammation; in both cases the non-stop inflammatory process can exacerbate the initial pain event, it can prolong it and, in some cases, it can result in additional joint damage. This is a bad thing.

So...it's important to understand what's causing your inflammation and take every measure possible to arrest or slow it. Remember that we'll get to exactly that in Part 2: How to Reduce Inflammation.

 

WHAT CAUSES INFLAMMATION?

The most common causes of chronic inflammation include:

  • Autoimmune disorders, where your body attacks healthy tissue

  • Exposure to toxins, pollution, industrial chemicals

  • Untreated acute inflammation, such as when an injury is left untreated or gets infected

Lifestyle factors also contribute to inflammation in the body. You may be more likely to develop chronic inflammation when you:

  • Drink alcohol

  • Are obese

  • Experience chronic stress
  • Smoke
  • Exercise too much

  • Exercise too frequently

  • Aren't exercising enough

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU’RE INFLAMED?

This brings us to the subject line of this email: How do you know if you're inflamed?

Acute inflammation may cause:

  • Flushed red skin at the site of the injury

  • Lots of heat coming from the area
  • Pain or tenderness

  • Swelling

Chronic inflammatory symptoms can be a bit harder to spot than acute inflammation symptoms. Signs of chronic inflammation can include:

  • Abdominal pain

  • Heart issues (chest pain)

  • Fatigue
  • Foggy thinking
  • Fever
  • Joint pain or stiffness
  • Mouth sores

  • Skin rash
  • Bone loss
  • Weight gain

  • Depression
  • Intermittent Explosive Disorder (Yes! That's a thing! It's uncontrolled outbursts of anger)

WAYS TO TEST FOR CHRONIC INFLAMMATION

Currently, there's no single test that definitively tells you if you have chronic inflammation but your doctor can look at your history, along with blood work which shows the following inflammatory markers to determine how much inflammation you're dealing with:

  • Elevated High Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (HS-CRP)

  • SED Rate

  • High levels of Homocysteine

  • Elevated Ferritin in the blood

  • Elevated HDL

  • Elevated Monocytes can be a secondary indicator of inflammation

  • Elevated Blood Glucose is a leading indicator of inflammation

I hope that this information motivates you to be proactive on this topic.

Next? Read PART 2 of this topic: Ways to Reduce Inflammation.

Talk to you soon,

Dinneen

 

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