In this post, we explore things to know about inflammation. Then in the next post, we dig into things to do about it.
What does the word inflammation mean to you? Do you think of it as a productive and helpful response to an injury, infection or illness? Or do you think of it as something unwanted, like chronic pain or swelling?
The truth is that inflammation is a smart and necessary immune response. But it’s also true that when it does not resolve, inflammation becomes chronic and damaging to your body tissues. This is the kind that is bad.
More about the chronic types
Unresolved inflammation is a player in all of the chronic illnesses and all of the autoimmune diseases and all of the “itis” conditions. It also:
- Occupies your immune system and makes it harder to mount a fast response against a virus or pathogen (like Covid)!
- Wears down joints and bone, causing arthritis and osteoporosis.
- Lays down plaque in your arteries.
- Affects your brain. Neuroinflammation can cause anxiety, depression, brain fog, and cognitive decline.
- Causes autoimmune flares, or even the development of more autoimmune diseases.
- Makes it harder to heal from injuries or recover from exercise.
- Prohibits weight loss and causes weight gain!
- Makes PMS and period pain worse.
Okay, okay, I’ll stop with the doom and gloom. I think we can all agree that unresolved inflammation is a bad thing. But how do you recognize if it even exists?
Identifying unresolved inflammation
Many women I work with come in saying they feel inflamed. When I ask for more details, I often hear that they have noticable:
- Breakouts or rashes
These are cases of seeing or feeling inflammation. What about the inflammation that you don’t see or feel? This is silent inflammation. It may show up on labs, such as elevations in:
- CRP and high sensitive CRP
- Interleukin 6
- Sedimentation rate
- Insulin and glucose
In many situations, you can simply assume there’s silent inflammation. These are chronic conditions where inflammation is always present:
- Allergies (pollen, food, dust, etc)
- Chronic stress (stress hormones cause inflammation if they are overactive)
- Reoccurring infections in your gut, sinuses, lungs, bladder, or vagina
- Chronic stealth infections (Lyme, herpes, Epstein Barr are examples)
- Mold and histamine intolerance
- Autoimmune processes that aren’t in remission
- Hormone imbalance
- Blood sugar and insulin dysregulation
- Excessive belly fat creates inflammation!
So, if you see or feel it, or if the above lab markers are elevated, or if you have one of the above conditions – you’ve got unresolved inflammation!
In part 2, we dig into what to do about it.