Inflammation our body’s main defence but can we control it or turn it off

Understanding inflammation is very important

We do not want this to stop happening when we are in trouble because sometimes it might not be visible to you. We will therefore outline in simple terms how to manage it and look at ways to avoid it happening in the first place.

This information is not to be used as medical advice and you should always check with your doctor if you have any concerns about your health

What causes inflammation?

This question will take some time to answer so let’s first look at a simple cut on your skin. Your skin is a protective layer covering the whole body protecting it from anything that can damage our body. Our body has several openings for us to put things into our body and the skin protects itself from anything else trying to get in a different way. As soon as your skin is cut our body’s immune system starts immediately. We don’t have to think about it as it's automatic.

The red inflammation together with heat, swelling and pain is the outward signs of the immune system's response.  The heat comes from the increased blood flow; redness is caused by the blood coming closer to the surface of the skin and the swelling is blood vessels expanding to allow the white cells to get out and attack any pathogens and clean up the damaged site by releasing cytokines.

Other examples include

  • You sprain a joint; it swells and becomes hot, painful and difficult to move..
  • You catch a cold & the blood vessels swell, blocking your nose,  inflammatory histamines stimulate mucus production followed by  coughs and sneezing.
  • You get something in your eye and it starts to water and redden.
  • Body fat is important to us but it stores large quantities of inflammatory cytokines. If you have too much especially around the organs  they can create low-level inflammation.
  • High-sugar diets can also lead to inflamed gum disease

Our 21st Century Family Survival Guide includes many things to reduce the problems coping with everyday things that modern life needs. It is no longer a quiet village where people walk everywhere.  Some of us drive to work and do a hard day’s work and then before and after work perhaps look after our children, or cooking meals, paying bills, tidying the house, laundry and ironing, paying the rent and juggling money to make sure there is enough and so on. It helps if there is two of you to do this work but if you’re on your own, phew!

Unfortunately for some people who are within a family violence situation,  or others who have someone who is sick or aged and need taking care of have extra duties. There are so many different things to do every day and at times it just feels too much because at the end of the day we are exhausted and not really looking forward to tomorrow and starting all over again. This is very stressful and we should consider how to reduce this,  because any stress can cause problems eventually.

What is the connection between psychological problems and poor health?

Persons experiencing personal violence generally leads to stress (post traumatic) and, or depression. More recently research has shown reexperiencing symptoms may explain the link between these psychological symptoms and the inflammatory blood marker C-reactive protein. Focus is now being given to the role of PTSD in understanding the link between traumatic events and poor health.

Summary

Obesity, stress, pollution, bad diet and ageing can all contribute to a low-level state of inflammation that, doesn't become a problem immediately because it is keeping our body always ready for danger that never comes. But in doing this we find that we are not as well as we could be.

Is there an off switch?

Neutrophils and macrophages, the types of white blood cell that start the immune system repair process with the release of cytokines, actively change when ready to release a second set of chemicals, named resolvins, that remove any remaining cytokines and sweep away any debris. The problems seems to be that in low level inflammatory problems there are more cytokines than resolvins.

Researchers are working on different ways to solve this problem. Meanwhile there are some things you can do.

  • Read more about this subject
    • Search for resolvins
  • Reduce your stress level
    • delegate some of your work
    • talk to more people
    • make friends
    • learn how to do thing easier
    • give yourself a treat
  • Lose excess weight
    • Fat is a storehouse of inflammatory cytokines. Not good if you are too fat because it's cytokines can affect organs nearby
  • Eat good food particularly omega-3
    • The body uses some things we eat to make resolvins
  • Exercise
    • Being active, releases anti-inflammatory chemicals and tells the liver to metabolise fat
  • Stretch
    • Extending inflamed muscles seems to soothe them
  • Take low-dose aspirin
    • The  drug helps reduce inflammation (check with your doctor first)

 

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