Mention inflammation and most folks think of the visible puffiness you get when you say, bang a knee or take a tumble. But that sort of swelling, known as acute inflammation, isn’t the only kind we need to be concerned about.
It is chronic inflammation—acute inflammation’s darker and more dangerous cousin—which can trigger major health problems.
Experts say there are links between chronic inflammation and…
- heart disease
- breathing issues
- bone weakness
- joint problems
- digestive diseases
- and more
Chronic inflammation harms healthy tissue
What makes this sort of inflammation different from the kind we get from a bump or mild infections is how long it lasts. Acute inflammation pops up in response to some sort of trauma, but it settles down once you take care of the emergency.
Chronic inflammation is another story.
Chronic inflammation is typically an immune reaction to a threat that doesn’t really exist. Or one which doesn’t require a response by your immune system. This means your body ends up literally attacking itself, targeting normal healthy tissue.
The results is skyrocketing internal inflammation, and eventually the health problems to go with it.
Classic signs of chronic inflammation
Following are four classic signs your body may be battling chronic inflammation.
With acute inflammation such as you’d get from a twisted ankle, you will have pain in the ankle that was injured. But with chronic inflammation, the pain is harder to pinpoint.
If you’re experiencing unexplained muscle or joint pain, or an all-over ache, you may be suffering from chronic inflammation. Your body sends out white blood cells when your immune response is triggered. The cells generate inflammation, and produce specific healing chemicals.
But when there’s actually nothing to heal, such as with chronic inflammation, those chemicals can end up in your muscle tissue, causing swelling. The swelling then activates nerve endings. And the bottom lines is you end up in pain.
Over time, and left untreated, this cycle can begin to cause real damage to muscles, joints and cartilage.
Although headaches can have a variety of triggers, inflammation is one of them. In fact, according to the Department of Neurology Research at the Mayo Clinic inflammation triggered headaches are so common they’re their own category.
Chronic inflammation leads to vascular changes which affect blood flow. This can cause vasodilation (increased blood flow and a drop in blood pressure) as well as vasoconstriction (decreased blood flow and an increase in blood pressure). And both can trigger headaches that range anywhere from merely annoying to downright debilitating.
3. Digestive issues:
Chronic inflammation can throw your whole digestive system off track. It’s a common cause of gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhea.
Ongoing inflammation is linked to inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. And experts say chronic inflammation is one of the main causes of leaky gut syndrome.
This condition effects the lining of the intestines, allowing microscopic holes to form. Tiny undigested food particles, toxins and microbes can then slip from the intestines into your blood stream. Your body’s immune system responds by triggering even more inflammation.
Do you have trouble drifting off at night, no matter how sleepy you are? Or do you never feel fully rested during the day no matter how many hours you spend in bed the night before? If so inflammation could be to blame.
Fatigue is a classic sign of chronic inflammation. In fact, researchers at Smith College out of Massachusetts discovered that the part of your brain that registers when to sleep, and when to wake up, actually changes when exposed to inflammation.
Known as your circadian rhythm, this internal clock plays a role in a long list of functions from digestion to metabolism.
The good news is there are steps you can take to reduce chronic inflammation. You can start by eliminating foods that cause inflammation including…
- artificial sweeteners
- artificial colors
- vegetable oils
- refined flours
- highly processed foods
- added sugars
- trans fats
Then add more anti-inflammatory foods to your diet. Click here for some ideas.
And finally work on improving your sleep habits so you can finally get the sleep you need. Supplements may be able to help you reset your sleep clock. See our special report Get a Great Night’s Sleep Without Drugs for some tips.
Don’t let hidden chronic inflammation destroy your health. Be on the lookout for these five common signs.