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Dousing the Flames of Chronic Inflammation

March 08, 2017 by NCSF 0 comments

Not all forms of inflammation are created alike - acute inflammation plays a central role in wound healing and immunological protection from infectious agents that can enter the body. Chronic, systemic inflammation can lead to various diseases and maladies including arthritis, metabolic syndrome, heart disease and even Alzheimer's.

In response to infection the body initiates an acute inflammatory response which increases local blood flow to the infected area, enhances the permeability of local capillaries and allows for the entry of white blood cells into the infected tissue. This helps limit the spread of infection and/or expedites the healing process for a wound such as a cut. Conversely, Dr. Andrew Luster, of the Center for Immunology and Inflammatory Diseases at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital describes chronic inflammation as, "… a smoldering process that injures your tissues, joints, and blood vessels, and you often do not notice it until significant damage is done."

Chronic inflammation is essentially a red flag indicator of metabolic or hormonal disorder within the body. Protecting yourself from damaging inflammation usually starts with properly managing your diet and lifestyle habits. The following include some practical steps for limiting your risk for inflammation-associated disease:

So how does one know if they have chronic inflammation? A series of blood tests can be performed by your doctor to measure for a liver chemical known as C-reactive protein (CRP), which rises in response to systemic inflammation. Often a CRP level of 1-3 mg/L signals a low, yet chronic, degree of inflammation. Levels >3 mg/L can indicate a high risk of inflammation. "This reaction is not confined to one particular place either," explained Dr. Luster. "Inflammation can travel throughout the body and cause problems all over. If you get arthritis or heart disease, odds are chronic inflammation is a contributor."

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