Inflammation: Marker for Disease

Inflammation is a condition in which the body responds to infection or irritation with an activation of various factors, including macrophage cells which consume infectious agents such as bacteria, mastocytes which help with healing a wound, and other cells which assist in fighting the infection and healing the site through the release and trigger of various chemical compounds. In the absence of these inflammatory factors, our bodies would not be able to heal wounds or infections and we would quickly succumb to the injury.

There are two types of inflammatory responses within the body: acute and chronic.

An acute inflammatory response is a strong reaction to a single injury or irritant. The acute inflammatory response requires constant stimulation to be sustained. The chemicals which are released during an acute inflammatory response have short half-lives and are quickly degraded in the tissue. Hence, the symptoms of an acute injury (swelling, redness, pus, pain) stop once the irritant has been removed, or the injury has healed to a point where the response is no longer needed to protect the site.

The chronic inflammatory response happens when the body is continually assaulted by factors that cause an ongoing inflammatory response. If the inflammatory response is not actively terminated by the body, either because the irritant remains, or because of signaling failure, the body will end up damaging its own tissues. The “self-damage” results in a chronically inflamed state, with cellular destruction and interference in healing.

Ongoing or chronically inflammation is not a healthy state for the body. It can cause or worsen many disease conditions, such as atherosclerosis and autoimmune diseases such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Given the powerful influence they have on overall health, inflammatory agents are closely regulated by the body, and are normally balanced by other anti-inflammatory factors.

The state of an individual’s inflammatory response can be measured by testing for the presence of C Reactive Protein, a marker that increases in the blood in the presence of inflamed tissues.

A natural anti-inflammatory diet and certain supplements can reduce CRP levels without drug interventions.

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