Thoughts on Better Aging

Chronic Inflammation: A Silent Danger

October 2nd, 2013

Chronic inflammation is a hot topic in the medical community, but most people are not aware of its existence, nor do they know of the harmful effects that it can have on the body. Chronic inflammation begins when the body’s immune system starts responding to a perceived threat by releasing cells that cause an inflammatory response. This is a normal response by the immune system, but problems arise when the body does not properly turn this inflammatory response off. As a result, the excess of immune cells start to attack healthy systems within the body, causing unhealthy inflammation. Studies have found that this leads to a variety of dangerous health problems, including conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, cancer, and a several other issues. Chronic inflammation can be caused by a host of factors, ranging from stress, diet, and environmental issues to carrying excess weight, hormonal imbalances, and menopause.

Health Issues Related to Chronic Inflammation

The health issues associated with chronic inflammation are serious, and can cause a multitude of medical problems. Some of the most common issues are:

Ÿ  Diabetes

Ÿ  High Blood Pressure

Ÿ  Strokes

Ÿ  Cancer

Ÿ  Heart Disease

Ÿ  Chronic Kidney Disease

Ÿ  Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Ÿ  Alzheimer’s Disease

When the cells of the immune system fail to turn off their inflammatory response, they begin attacking the healthy tissue of different organ systems. In the case of diabetes, the pancreatic tissue becomes inflamed, while heart disease can be the result of the inflammation of essential blood vessel linings. As the inflammation becomes worse, the symptoms of the health problems developing become apparent.

Causes of Chronic Inflammation

A number of things have been found to cause chronic inflammation, including environmental factors, stress, diet, excess weight, menopause, and hormonal imbalances. Most people are exposed to a number of environmental irritants on a daily basis. Things such as pollution, pesticides, and chemicals that are found in synthetic materials, food, and cleaning products can wreak havoc on the immune system, causing it to become over sensitive and respond in a manner that leads to an influx of inflammation throughout the body.

Stress has long been known to be unhealthy, and now scientists see a strong link between stress and chronic inflammation. When the body experiences stress, whether it is physical or emotional, it is not uncommon for the immune system to become unbalanced. This unbalance can trigger the immune system to overreact and produce a response that is uncalled for. It is not a coincidence that people who experience chronic stress often have a number of other health problems.

Exactly how hormones work together in the body is still being studied today, but there is no question that these compounds are essential to numerous biological functions. There is also evidence that hormone imbalance, or the onset of menopause can contribute to chronic inflammation. Scientists have not discovered exactly why this happens, but the symptoms of chronic inflammation become much more apparent when a woman is experiencing an estrogen imbalance, or when estrogen levels dramatically fall after menopause.

Doctors have been warning people about the dangers of carrying excess weight, especially in the abdominal area, and now it is highly suspected that extra fat, especially belly fat, is a contributing factor to chronic inflammation. It is hypothesized that the excess fat cells create cytokines and C-reactive protein, which cause an unwarranted inflammatory response within the body.

As people have been turning towards unhealthy foods and an unbalanced diet, there has been a huge increase in obesity, digestive problems, and an array of other health issues. The culprit is most likely chronic inflammation, which is directly affected by diet. Studies have shown that a high carbohydrate, low protein can incite an inflammatory response. Other culprits include refined sugar and foods with high glycemic values. These types of food increase insulin levels, which puts the immune system on alert. Trans fats found in food also cause problems and triggers an inflammatory response in arteries.

Symptoms of Chronic Inflammation

The symptoms associated with chronic inflammation are generally issues that people may attribute to other factors. While many of the symptoms can be signs of other problems, a person experiencing a combination of them is advised to consult a doctor to determine if chronic inflammation is the cause. The most common symptoms include:

Ÿ  Chronic Joint and Muscle Pain

Ÿ  Increase in Blood Pressure

Ÿ  Blood Sugar Issues

Ÿ  Constant Fatigue

Ÿ  Stomach/ Digestive Problems (IBS, Chronic Diarrhea or Constipation, Ulcers)

Ÿ  Worsening Allergies or Asthma

Reducing and Treating Chronic Inflammation

The good news is the fact that measures can be taken to treat chronic inflammation. Common methods to reduce and treat chronic inflammation include losing weight, following a healthy diet that limits foods that incite an inflammatory response, regular exercise, restoring hormone balances, and following a vitamin and supplement regime. Combining several of these methods can greatly reduce the amount of inflammation in the body, thus helping people prevent the onset of one of the serious health conditions that chronic inflammation may be responsible for.

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