The word ‘inflammation’ can be used to describe a number of injuries being experienced by the body, and which is caused by various reasons. The term itself comes from the Latin word inflammationem, which can be roughly translated to mean “a setting on fire”. When we look at the causes, the concept still holds true. While most of us will understand what it means when a bee string or small scrape is described as inflamed, what does it mean when inflammation occurs within the body? Here’s what you need to know.
What exactly is inflammation?
Inflammation is a natural response triggered in the body when it detects a potential intruder. When something ‘foreign’ is detected, the immune system directs hormones, nutrients and immune cells to the area. As your blood flow increases, and your capillaries dilate to help them get there, swelling and warmth can occur. Usually, once the threat has been neutralised, the area returns to normal.
When does inflammation need treatment?
In minor cases, inflammation does its job and then goes away. However, in some cases, inflammation can become an ongoing condition that places a strain on your body, as the cause never abates. This occurs when you don’t let an injury heal by itself, or keep reinjuring the same area. Add in general life stress and a lack of sleep, and you have the perfect recipe for chronic inflammation. This condition might not be apparent immediately, but over time can cause long-term damage and decrease your wellbeing.
How can I treat or prevent it?
Most doctors agree that a healthy lifestyle consisting of meals made from healthy foods, regular exercise, and adequate sleep is enough to stave off inflammation, provided you have no other medical conditions. It’s important to remember that when exercising, you need to balance your workouts and know your limits, seeing as exercise does decrease inflammation. If you push yourself too hard, you can cause more harm than good. A moderate amount of exercise with recovery time in between sessions, stresses your muscles enough to force them to grow. Plus, you’ll want to help reduce the inflammation by applying topical pain relief to the affected areas.