Introduction to Inflammation
Inflammation is a crucial part of our immune system's response to injury and infection. It’s our body's way of sending signals to our immune system to fight off foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria, or repair damaged tissue. The role of inflammation is to repair our body and act as a protective response mechanism. Without inflammation, our bodies would be pretty powerless when faced with injury or illness. The most common and obvious symptoms of inflammation are heat/fever, fatigue, swelling, redness, and pain (think of red, swollen, painful tonsils during strep throat infection). However, not all inflammation is helpful and sometimes assumes a role of a proverbial double-edged sword.
When something damages our cells, our immune system gets triggered and causes an increased blood flow to the damaged area to either fight off unwanted invasions or clear out any damaged cells.
Sometimes our body can make an error and end up attacking itself in the process. When this happens, autoimmune diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, or others may develop.
When we have issues like allergies and autoimmune diseases, the immune system recognizes the inciting agent as something foreign and it goes into a prolonged full attack mode causing chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation, as opposed to acute inflammation such as response to an insect bite, is not a healthy or helpful mechanism and may cause damage to our DNA and our organ systems as well as promote certain chronic conditions like asthma, type 2 diabetes, obesity, psoriasis, heart disease, and cancer.