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Inflammation: Friend or Foe?

What is Inflammation? Did you know that inflammation is incredibly important for the body’s immune defense? It aids in identifying and eradicating harmful and foreign stimuli. There are two different types of inflammation:

Acute inflammation is what you experience when you get a cut. The area with the cut will become warmer, swollen, and red due to the inflammatory response.

Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is referred to as slow, long-term inflammation that lasts anywhere from several months to years (1).

In this article we are mainly focusing on chronic inflammation.




 

"Even though chronic inflammation effects a lot of people, it is not inexorable."


 

Risk factors and causes for chronic inflammation (1): There are a number of factors that can put you at a higher risk for developing chronic inflammation. Some of these risk factors are controllable such as diet, smoking, and stress, while others are biological such as age and low sex hormones. You might develop chronic inflammation if you have experienced infections, exposure to foreign substances or chemicals that the body cannot naturally remove, autoimmune disorders, a defect in the immune response, and repeated exposure to acute inflammation. These are some of the common causes for chronic inflammation, however it is not an exhaustive list.

Symptoms of Chronic Inflammation (1): If you have chronic inflammation, you might experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Body pain, joint pain, muscle pain

  • Chronic fatigue and insomnia

  • Depression, anxiety, and mood disorders

  • Gastrointestinal complications e.g. constipation, diarrhea, and acid reflux

  • Weight gain or weight loss

  • Frequent infections


Ways to manage chronic inflammation through lifestyle interventions (1):

Even though chronic inflammation effects a lot of people, it is not inexorable. Some simple ways to manage your chronic inflammation include eating an anti-inflammatory diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, getting adequate amounts of exercise, or incorporating dietary supplements, such as fish oil, into your daily routine.



CRP and its connection to inflammation

Are you considering or already doing the above interventions to manage your chronic inflammation but are unsure if they are effective? Then you should consider measuring your C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP has been established as a reliable marker for both acute and chronic inflammation (2). Along with monitoring your inflammation, prolonged elevation of CRP is a strong predictor of a lot of diseases (3–6).


Long-term monitoring of CRP can be an easy, convenient way to keep track of your health and reaffirm your health decisions so that you have control over your own wellbeing.


 

Sources

1. Pahwa R, Goyal A, Jialal I. Chronic Inflammation. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 [cited 2022 Jul 25]. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/



2. Luan Y yi, Yao Y ming. The Clinical Significance and Potential Role of C-Reactive Protein in Chronic Inflammatory and Neurodegenerative Diseases. Front Immunol. 2018 Jun 7;9:1302.



3. Avan A, Tavakoly Sany SB, Ghayour-Mobarhan M, Rahimi HR, Tajfard M, Ferns G. Serum C-reactive protein in the prediction of cardiovascular diseases: Overview of the latest clinical studies and public health practice. J Cell Physiol. 2018;233(11):8508–25.



4. Yu N, Cui H, Chen X, Chang Y. Changes of serum pentraxin-3 and hypersensitive CRP levels during pregnancy and their relationship with gestational diabetes mellitus. PLOS ONE. 2019 Nov 13;14(11):e0224739.



5. Cheng L, Zhuang H, Yang S, Jiang H, Wang S, Zhang J. Exposing the Causal Effect of C-Reactive Protein on the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Mendelian Randomization Study. Front Genet [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2022 Jul 29];9. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fgene.2018.00657



6. Hart PC, Rajab IM, Alebraheem M, Potempa LA. C-Reactive Protein and Cancer—Diagnostic and Therapeutic Insights. Front Immunol [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2022 Jul 29];11. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2020.595835




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