Inflammation is the body’s natural response when it is attacked by infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses or parasites, poison or when there is an injury caused by heat, radiation or trauma. In such situations, the body initiates inflammatory response that will purpose to eliminate the cause of injury, eliminate the dead cells and damaged tissues as well as begin their repair.
Inflammation can occur in various parts of the body such as the ear, intestine, gum, throat or uterus. It can either be acute or chronic depending on how long the symptoms take to arise and how long it will take for the inflammation to be cured.
Symptoms of inflammation
The main signs and symptoms that may indicate an inflammatory process are:
- Swelling or oedema
- Pain when playing
- Redness or flushing
- Feeling warmer than usual
When you experience the symptoms it is recommended to consult the doctor as soon as possible so that a diagnosis is made and the most appropriate treatment is prescribed.
In addition, depending on the site of inflammation, other signs and symptoms may be experienced such as swollen glands, white spots or sore throat, fever and realise of thick yellowish liquid, in case of an ear infection.
Inflammation can have several causes, the main ones being:
- Infection by bacteria, viruses or fungi
- Sprains or fractures
- Exposure to radiation or heat
- Allergic diseases
- Acute diseases such as dermatitis, cystitis and bronchitis
- Chronic diseases such as lupus, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and ulcerative colitis
When the body is exposed to such situations, the immune system is activated and it will begin the release of cells and substances which are pro and anti-inflammatory, and they will act directly on the inflammatory response and promote healing of the affected site. For this reason, substances such as histamine or bradykinin are released. They will act by dilating the blood vessels and allowing increased blood flow to the site of injury.
Thee process of chemotaxis will begin. This is where by blood cells such as neutrophils and macrophages are attracted to the site of injury so as to fight the causative agents of inflammation and control bleeding.
What is the difference between acute and chronic inflammation?
The difference comes with the intensity of the symptoms that are experienced and the time they take to arise, as well as the time taken for healing to occur.
In acute inflammation, one will experience the typical signs and symptoms of inflammation such as fever, redness, swelling and pain, which lasts a short time. On the other hand, for chronic inflammation, the symptoms are not very specific and for this reason they may take time before they appear and may last up to 3 months, such as in rheumatoid arthritis and tuberculosis.
How treatment is done
Treatment for inflammation should be done according to the guidance of a doctor. This is because different medications may be prescribed depending on the cause of inflammation. In general, treatment of inflammation may be done with:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as of Ibuprofen, acetylsalicylic acid or Naproxen, which are generally used to treat simpler inflammations such as throat inflammation or earache.
- Corticosteroid anti-inflammatory drugs such as Prednisolone or Prednisone, which are generally used only in cases of more severe or chronic inflammations such as psoriasis or some chronic candidiasis.
The inflammatory drugs function to reduce discomfort and the effects of inflammation on the body which will in turn reduce pain, swelling and redness.