Open Future HealthInflammation: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Inflammation is the body's attempt at self-protection.

When something in the environment or your diet, is harming your body, there is a biological response to minimise the damage, and resolve the problem. The body tries to restore homeostasis.

Inflammation is a protective response that involves immune cells, blood vessels, and molecular mediators. The purpose of inflammation is to eliminate the initial cause of cell injury, clear out necrotic cells and tissues damaged from the original insult and the inflammatory process, and to initiate tissue repair.

Inflammation: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


InflammationThe normal function of the body tissues is adversely stimulated. The immune system tries to respond.


If there is some infection the immune system tries to expel the problem. The infection might be wrapped in mucus and expelled as pus. Or a wound might weep a fluid trying to remove the infection.

If you have a poisoning of some kind, that might travel in the blood stream to many parts of the body.

Acute Inflammation

Generally severe swelling, perhaps so great that movement of a joint becomes difficult.

Perhaps the formation of an ulcer on the site of a simple wound.

A doctor might treat an infection with an antibiotic.


There is dispute about how best to treat inflammation, since we understand that it's a healing process.

So one response is to enable or encourage it expecting that the body knows how best to deal with this problem.

But possibly that might be dangerous for some people, or there might be a broken bone for instance, and active intervention is advisable. E.g. Acute appendicitis.

Dr Stephen Phinney on Inflamation

The body's general response

If the inflammation is severe, it may cause general reactions in the body. This may include the following signs and symptoms:

General symptoms of feeling sick, exhaustion and fever: These symptoms are a sign that the immune defense is very active and needs a lot of energy, which may be lacking for other activities. If the rate of metabolism is higher due to a fever, more defense substances and cells can be produced.

Changes in the blood such as an increased number of defense cells.

A very rare but dangerous complication of an inflammation is called sepsis. Sepsis may occur if bacteria multiply quickly in a certain part of the body and then suddenly enter the bloodstream in large quantities. This can happen if the body does not succeed in fighting the inflammation locally, the pathogens are very aggressive, or the immune system is severely weakened.

Chills, feeling very ill, and very high fever can also be signs of blood poisoning. If blood poisoning is suspected, medical assistance is urgently needed.

Inflammations can also cause chronic diseases

An inflammation is not always a helpful response of the body. In certain diseases the immune system fights against its own cells by mistake, causing harmful inflammatory responses. These include, for example:

Rheumatoid arthritis, where many joints throughout the entire body are permanently inflamed Psoriasis, a chronic skin disease like long lasting hives.

Inflammations of the bowel like Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis

These diseases are called chronic inflammatory diseases, and can last for years or even a lifetime in varying degrees of severity and activity.

ArrowReturn to Health Homepage
Printed from,