The symptoms of chronic inflammation are more ordinary than you might think. Here’s what to look for.
The human body is a complex mechanism, one with trillions of moving parts (cells) and hundreds of individual organs and systems. It’s designed to run like a smoothly-oiled machine, but like all machines, it can start having problems after years of use (and, in many cases, neglect). Just like you’d expect to hear clanking sounds from a machine, chronic inflammation is a problem that sets in if your body isn’t well cared for.
What are the symptoms of chronic inflammation? How can you tell something is going wrong inside your body?
- Stiff joints — If your joints are stiff, it’s usually a sign something is wrong with the cartilage between the joints and the connective tissue around the joints. Most stiff joints are accompanied by a certain degree of pain, which usually points to arthritis.
- Depression –– It may sound odd to hear that depression is linked to chronic inflammation, but you’d be surprised by how widespread the inflammation can be! Depressed people tend to have higher inflammatory markers than healthy people, and medically-induced inflammation (done for research purposes) have been known to increase depression.
- Fatigue –– This is the result of your body’s unceasing struggle to fix whatever it perceives as being wrong. It takes a lot of energy to sustain the inflammatory and immune response, so it saps at your energy supply and leads to fatigue. If you are always tired–even after just waking up–you may find that inflammation is the problem.
- Stomach pain –– Stomach pain can definitely be the result of chronic inflammation, specifically inflammatory bowel disease. IBD is marked by more than just stomach pain, but it can be accompanied by constipation, diarrhea, cramps, and a persistent aching. It can also be the result of inflammation caused by celiac disease or food sensitivities and intolerances.
- Skin problems –– Your skin is a useful indicator of what’s going on inside your body. If your body is healthy, your skin will be as well. If your body is suffering, your skin will usually reflect the condition. If you notice skin problems–rashes, redness, swelling, puffiness, etc.–it may be a sign there is something wrong.
- Asthma — Asthma and inflammation are inextricably linked. Not only is asthma form of inflammation, but it’s often the result of chronic illness and inflammation. If your asthma persists even after regular treatment, it may be a sign that there’s something else going wrong.
- Allergy symptoms –– Allergies are usually only there for a short time, then your body is able to recover and eliminate them. But if the symptoms persist, it may be a sign that it’s not an allergy like you thought. The chronic inflammation can lead to a runny nose, fever, coughing, bloodshot eyes, and other problems that mimic the symptoms of an allergy, but is actually your body’s response to whatever is causing the inflammation.
- High blood pressure –– If your blood pressure is higher, it’s a sign there is something going wrong inside your body. Something (usually inflammation or a buildup of plaque on the arterial walls) is causing the blood vessels to narrow, forcing your heart to work harder to pump blood. It’s a bad sign, and it’s an indication that there are underlying health problems that deserve your attention.
These are the most common symptoms of chronic inflammation, but the truth is that your body has many ways of showing there is something wrong. Understanding this will help you to deal with whatever is causing the inflammation as soon as possible!