We often talk about inflammation and its effects on our body and our well-being. However, do we really know what inflammation actually is and what explains this phenomenon? Here is an article that looks at these questions.

Inflammation: When the body defends itself

In concrete terms, inflammation is the immune system’s response to an element perceived as a danger. This danger can take different forms: bacteria, viruses, foreign bodies, etc. It can also be a response to exposure to substances, which, without being really dangerous or immediately fatal, are harmful and trigger an inflammatory process in the body. Let us think in particular of the chemicals contained in tobacco smoke as well as alcohol.

The response of the immune system leads to several phenomena. First, hormones are released, which cause the blood vessels in the affected area of the body to dilate. These are also the hormones that send pain signals to the brain. This has a very specific function: we tend to be careful in our activities to protect the part of the body that is in pain. Then, the immune system sends white blood cells, which have the function of eliminating pathogens.

It should be noted that inflammation can be acute; in other words, it is the reaction to an infection or an injury. Certain conditions can lead to chronic inflammation, for example, in the case of autoimmune diseases where the immune system reacts by attacking healthy tissue. In particular, think of chronic inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn’s disease.

How to recognize inflammation

The body’s reactions lead to distinct symptoms associated with the inflammatory process. The five main symptoms are:

  • Pain in the area affected by inflammation
  • Redness due to the dilation of blood vessels, which causes blood to flow into the area
  • Swelling due to an accumulation of fluid
  • A feeling of heat in the affected area
  • Loss of mobility, for example, after a joint injury

These five symptoms do not necessarily occur at the same time. Moreover, in the case of chronic conditions that often affect organs or well-hidden parts of the body, signs of inflammation may not necessarily be noticed.

Causes of inflammation

Injuries and trauma are common causes of inflammation. We can then see lesions, such as tears in the affected tissues, which trigger the inflammatory process mentioned above. Since the inflammation is usually located within a joint or on the surface of the skin (in the case of a wound), the five signs of inflammation are generally easy to detect.

Infections are also a well-known cause of inflammation. For example, in the case of a respiratory virus, the bronchi can become inflamed in what is known as bronchitis. This can lead to pain and difficulty in breathing, caused by swelling of the walls of the bronchi and an accumulation of mucus.

Lastly, since we are especially interested in joint health, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are conditions that lead to pain and inflammation in the joints. Arthritis is a broad term that encompasses many conditions, some of which are linked to autoimmune reactions. Osteoarthritis is a disease caused by the wear and tear of the cartilage within the joints. This wear and tear can lead to inflammation of the structures, which are no longer as well protected by the cartilage and which will rub against each other.

 

Natural solutions

Depending on the causes of inflammation, we can work on them to reduce the pain and the resulting symptoms. For a joint injury, ice can be applied, for a maximum of 20 minutes every hour. This helps numb the area, control pain, and slow down the inflammatory process.

Regarding conditions that cause inflammation and joint pain, we know that certain foods can help reduce inflammation in the body: fatty fish, cruciferous food, ginger, turmeric…

Since we are talking about turmeric, do you know that curcumin is the active compound recognized to be a powerful antioxidant and helps the body to provide a healthy inflammation response? That’s why Turmeric Curcumin is used for years in traditional medicine as a natural alternative against inflammation and joint discomfort.

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