Whether temporary or ongoing, inflammation can be a real challenge in your day-to-day life, causing you to feel pain, exhaustion and frustration. For some of us, it creeps up out of nowhere and comes and goes seemingly at random. For others, it materializes slowly and never seems to fade away. Figuring out the root cause of your inflammation is key to finding the right treatment solutions and management techniques.
What’s Causing Your Inflammation?
Discovering the cause of inflammation isn’t as simple as it sounds. Inflammation happens when the body exerts an immune response, which is beneficial when you actually need it — such as when you have an injury or infection — but not so great when you don’t.
Unfortunately, in some people, the body has a tendency to over-deploy this response even when it’s not necessary. For example, it might view gluten or wheat as a risky foreign invader and wield a full-fledged inflammatory response, wreaking havoc on your gut.
Here are some more specific reasons why your body might be going the inflammatory route, whether it’s necessary or not.
- Chronic Disease – Did you know that there are hundreds of diseases out there that cause temporary and chronic inflammation? Some of the better-known ones include arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and psoriasis. People who have autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, also experience chronic inflammation. Ruling out a serious disease or disorder is important to your path toward wellness, so make sure you talk to your physician and explain all your symptoms.
- Injury – Inflammation after a twisted ankle or a broken femur is actually a good thing and nothing that should cause alarm. Luckily, it’s typically acute — meaning it occurs in only one area — and temporary. The body swells up with fluid and white blood cells when small tears in the blood vessels occur. After an injury, it’s important that we reduce swelling in order to manage pain and discomfort. This can be done through the use of ice therapy and anti-inflammatory drugs, such as NSAIDs and corticosteroids.
- Infection – Like injury, inflammation that occurs with infection is usually only temporary and may be localized to a specific area in the body. The body’s natural response to any potentially dangerous foreign invader — whether it is a virus, a bacteria or a foreign chemical — is to deploy all of its most powerful immune system responses, including inflammation. Inflammation may be a burden many other times, but in this case it’s a true hero, helping to prevent infections from getting into your body and causing serious harm.
- Allergies – An allergic reaction is one example of a time when the immune system is probably overreacting. Allergies occur when your body responds to an invader that it perceives to be dangerous and does everything it can to get it out of your system. For many, that’s things like dust, dander or pollen. For others, it’s foods like gluten, shellfish or tree nuts.
As a part of the body’s plan to handle these dangerous invaders, it causes swelling in the nose, throat or tongue. After the body has successfully rid itself of the invader, the swelling and inflammation generally subsides. However, emerging research suggests that there may be a link between allergies and chronic joint pain.
- Diet – Diet is one of those things that can be excellent or awful for inflammation, depending on how you look at it. Certain foods can help inflammation at bay, while others can seriously worsen it.
For example, red meat and processed foods are known to enhance inflammation, while things like omega-3 fatty acids help to combat it and keep it in check. Therefore, eating a healthy diet is one of the best things you can do to keep inflammation at bay. It’s crucial to eat a plant-based diet with plenty of whole foods and “good fats” while reducing fried and processed foods.
- Stress – It’s becoming more and more clear that stress takes a serious toll on us physically and mentally. People who struggle from chronic inflammation will find that their symptoms worsen and they experience flare-ups when they’re feeling more stressed about their work or personal life. Managing stress can help relieve discomfort and get you into a better state of mind. Whether you take a hot bath with some CBD bath bombs or finally plan that big vacation, don’t put off your stress-fighting strategy!
- Lifestyle Factors – Some of the choices we make in our day-to-day life as well as the circumstances in which we live can trigger inflammation. For example, people who are exposed to irritants for long periods of time, such as pollution in the air or industrial chemicals at work, may experience chronic inflammation. On top of that, things like smoking, excessively drinking alcohol and lack of exercise can cause inflammation or prevent our bodies from being able to ward it off. Making changes to your lifestyle, whether small or large, is essential to your anti-inflammation strategy.
Finding the Root of the Problem
At the end of the day, figuring out the trigger for your inflammation is crucial to discovering treatment that works for you. If you’re still searching for answers, it may be time to see your physician. Although inflammation can occur seemingly at random, as you can see it’s also a common sign of many potentially serious conditions. For this reason, it should never go ignored. Treating it successfully can mean a longer, happier life full of the things you love!