If you’ve ever twisted your knee, cut your finger, or have been stung by a bee, you have firsthand experience with the inflammatory response in the body. The familiar sensations of pain, redness, swelling, and heat that result from an injury or infection are all familiar signs of the inflammatory process.
Inflammation is basically an essential survival mechanism that helps the body fight off any hostile microbes to in the process repair damaged tissue. Yet there is another side of inflammation that can be harmful rather than helpful to human health. There’s evidence that inflammation, promoted by such factors as obesity, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle, contributes to a variety of diseases in the body.
There are two forms of inflammation: acute and chronic.
1. Acute inflammation comes on rapidly, usually within minutes, but is usually short-lived. Many of the mechanisms that spring into action to destroy any invading microbes in the form of bacteria, fungi or virusses switch gears to take away dead cells and repair damaged ones. This cycle returns the affected area to the initial state of balance, and inflammation dissipates within a few hours or days.
2. Chronic inflammation on the other hand often begins with the same cellular response, but changes into a lingering state that persists for months or years when the immune system response fails to eliminate the problem.
Alternatively, the inflammation may stay active even after the initial threat has been eliminated. In other cases, low-level inflammation becomes activated even when there is no apparent injury or disease.
Unchecked, the immune system initiates white blood cells to attack the nearby healthy tissues and organs, setting up a chronic inflammatory process that plays a central role in some of the most challenging diseases
of our time, including rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and even Alzheimer’s.