When an injury or infection occurs, the immune system responds by releasing various inflammatory substances, such as cytokines and histamines.
These substances increase blood flow to the affected area, causing redness and heat. They also make the blood vessels more permeable, allowing more immune cells to enter the affected area. This increased cell activity typically causes swelling and tenderness.
While inflammation is a necessary process for healing and protection, it can become dangerously problematic when it does not resolve as expected.
One of the most common yet overlooked symptoms of chronic inflammation is persistent fatigue. This is not just the ordinary tiredness you might feel after a long day, but a profound and unrelenting exhaustion that doesn’t improve with rest.
Inflammation can disrupt the balance of cells and chemicals in your body, leading to a feeling of constant fatigue. If you’re always tired, despite getting adequate sleep and nutrition, it could be a warning sign of chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation can significantly impact your digestive system, leading to issues like bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain.
Conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, are characterized by long-term inflammation of the digestive tract.
Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with a specific condition, recurring digestive issues can be a sign that chronic inflammation is at play.
Inflammation can also manifest externally, through various skin conditions. Acne, psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea are all conditions that can be exacerbated by chronic inflammation.
Unexplained rashes, itchy skin, or changes in skin color or texture may also indicate an inflammatory response in your body.
Joint Pain and Swelling
Inflammation is a central feature of arthritis, but even without an arthritis diagnosis, chronic inflammation can lead to joint pain and stiffness.
If your joints are consistently swollen, warm to the touch, or painful, particularly in the morning, this could be a sign of chronic inflammatory activity in your body.
If you’re frequently falling sick or taking longer than usual to recover from infections, it may be a sign of chronic inflammation.
When the immune system is preoccupied with a prolonged inflammatory response, it’s less able to effectively defend against viruses and bacteria, making you more susceptible to infections.
Unexplained Weight Gain or Loss
Unusual fluctuations in weight can be an indication of many health issues, chronic inflammation being one of them.
Some people might experience unexplained weight gain due to inflammation-related changes in metabolism, while others may lose weight because of a loss of appetite or increased energy expenditure during an inflammatory response.
Chronic Inflammation: More Than Just a Symptom
Chronic inflammation is more than just a symptom of an underlying condition—it’s a condition in itself that can lead to other serious health problems if left unchecked.
Conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s have all been linked to chronic inflammation.
It’s always best to consult a healthcare provider if you’re experiencing these symptoms, so they can guide you towards the appropriate treatment and management strategies. The sooner chronic inflammation is addressed, the better your chances of preventing its potentially serious consequences.