Inflammation- you've all heard of it, but few understand what's really going on. It's a lot more than just the swelling that happens after you twist your ankle or slam your finger in the car door. It's a very complex and dynamic interplay of many immunologic compounds interacting with each other in your body- on an almost constant basis.
It all starts with some type of trauma- an injury like listed above, or something a lot more subtle like blood vessels getting stressed out by too much tension (high blood pressure), or areas of the body becoming hypersensitive to invisible particles in the air (allergic reactions like hay fever). What happens then is a directed cascade of immune reactions where some guard molecules alert others to make reaction, and the message keeps getting passed along to more and more immune cells until you start the visible signs of inflammation like swelling or getting itchy eyes.
So is it all bad? Not really. There's a certain low amount of inflammation that is helpful when you really do injure yourself, to prevent overuse or strain of the recently injured area. But as for the rest of the inflammatory reactions we experience day in and day out, it's really better to decrease these as much as possible.
So how do you know if you have more inflammation than your body needs? Well, there's some well established medical conditions that will always be associated with high levels of inflammation. Some listed above are allergies (hay fever, allergic skin reactions/ ezcema, etc), high blood pressure (or having a strong family history of high blood pressure) and all other forms of Coronary Artery Disease signal high levels of inflammation as well as some other common conditions like asthma, migraines/ tension headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, PMS, problems with proper bowel function such as colitis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome- the list goes on and on.
In Part 2, we will talk more about inflammation, what it leads to and what can increase and decrease your body's amounts.
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