What is inflammation?

Inflammation is your body's response to injury or infection. It's a natural defense mechanism that helps protect and heal damaged tissue.

When an injury or infection occurs, the immune system sends additional blood and nutrients to the affected area through increased blood flow. This causes redness, heat, swelling, and pain - the main signs of acute inflammation.

Chronic inflammation occurs when this response continues over longer periods of time, even without an ongoing threat like an infection. This can damage healthy body tissues and cause inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.

What causes inflammation?

Inflammation starts when damaged cells release chemicals, including histamine, bradykinin, and prostaglandins. These chemicals make nearby blood vessels leak fluid into tissues, causing swelling. They also attract white blood cells to the area to defend against infection.

Common causes of inflammation include:

How is inflammation treated?

For minor cases, RICE therapy is recommended:

Over-the-counter meds like ibuprofen and acetaminophen also reduce swelling and pain.

For more stubborn inflammation cases, your doctor may prescribe stronger anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, or recommend supplements and diet changes. Getting inflammation under control is key to prevent chronic issues over time.

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if inflammation:

Untreated inflammation can lead to chronic diseases down the road. Getting an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan from your doctor is important, especially for ongoing cases without an identified cause like infection or injury.

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