What Is Inflammation and How Does it Impact Your Health?
If you’re familiar with functional or naturopathic doctors, you’ve likely heard us talk about inflammation.
Inflammation is a natural and vital process in the body that helps protect us from harmful stimuli–such as infections, toxins, and injuries.
However, when inflammation becomes excessive or chronic, it can lead to a variety of health problems.
In this article, we aim to answer the question “what is inflammation” by delving deeper into the causes, symptoms, and treatments of inflammation.
Causes of Inflammation
Inflammation can be caused by various factors–such as infections, injuries, environmental factors, and chronic diseases. Infections caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi can trigger an inflammatory response. When our immune system detects an infection, it releases chemicals that cause blood vessels to dilate, allowing more blood to reach the affected area. This results in the redness, swelling, and warmth we associate with inflammation. Physical injuries such as cuts, bruises, and fractures can also cause inflammation.
Exposure to toxins, pollutants, and allergens can also lead to inflammation. When we come into contact with these substances, our immune system responds by releasing chemicals that cause inflammation. Chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and arthritis can also cause chronic inflammation. In these conditions, the immune system is constantly activated, leading to a persistent inflammatory response.
Symptoms of Inflammation
The symptoms of inflammation can vary depending on the cause and severity of the condition. The classic signs of inflammation include redness, swelling, and pain. Inflamed areas of the body may appear red or discolored due to increased blood flow. Swelling or edema can occur as fluid accumulates in the affected area. Inflammation can cause pain or discomfort in the affected area, which may be sharp or dull.
Functional medicine doctors, however, focus most of their attention on chronic or systemic inflammation. These symptoms aren’t as “obvious” as the inflammation you experience when you break a leg or get a cut. In reality, many of us navigate life with chronic inflammation and don’t even realize it!
Symptoms of chronic or systemic inflammation:
- Brain fog
- Weight gain
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Runny nose
- Clearing your throat
- Aches and pains
Most functional medicine doctors work with people to address chronic inflammation as a result of lifestyle habits, toxic exposure, or other health conditions. If a person has inflammation due to a serious infection or injury, we always advise seeing a medical or emergency doctor.
Traditional Treatments for Inflammation
The treatment of inflammation depends on the cause and severity of the condition. Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Prescription medications such as corticosteroids may also be used for more severe cases of inflammation.
However, these medications end up masking the source of why inflammation is happening in the first place. They also cause adverse reactions that may lead to more inflammation or other health complications that require even more medications to treat. Thus, many patients end up on a “hamster wheel” of prescription medications that they just can’t seem to escape.
A Functional Approach to Inflammation
Lifestyle changes also reduce inflammation. Regular exercise can help reduce chronic inflammation by lowering levels of inflammatory markers in the body. A healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can also help reduce inflammation. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids–such as fatty fish and flaxseed–have anti-inflammatory properties. Stress reduction techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and yoga can also help reduce inflammation.
Alternative therapies such as acupuncture, massage, and chiropractic care may also help reduce inflammation and promote healing. These therapies can help alleviate pain, reduce stress, and improve circulation–all of which can help reduce inflammation.
At Twin Oaks, we believe that the body is capable of healing itself from every health condition. Inflammation is simply a “red flag” alerting us that something is amiss in the body. Through in-depth analysis, testing, and medical history, we help you get to the bottom of what’s causing your inflammation. Then we help you step on a path toward healing and walk alongside you every step of the way.
Why Choose a Functional Approach to Treating Inflammation?
A functional approach to treating inflammation combines medical testing with complementary and alternative therapies to provide a holistic and personalized approach to care. Functional medicine providers recognize that each patient is unique and therefore requires personalized care that takes into account their individual needs and preferences.
Functional medicine provides a more comprehensive and effective approach to treating inflammation. We harness medical testing to uncover the cause of your inflammation and accompanying health problems and treat them with lifestyle changes and alternative therapies such as acupuncture, massage, and meditation.
It’s our goal to get you back to living a life that’s full, rich, and vibrant.
Let’s Get to the Bottom of Your Inflammation Together
Inflammation is a natural and vital process in the body that can become problematic if it becomes excessive or chronic. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatments of inflammation is essential for maintaining good health.
At Twin Oaks, we adopt a functional approach to inflammation, providing a more personalized and effective approach to care that combines medical testing with complementary and alternative therapies. By addressing inflammation from multiple angles, we uncover the root causes of your inflammation and help you find complete healing from the inside out.
If you’re ready for a different type of healthcare, schedule a complimentary consultation today.