We hear the term chronic inflammation more and more often – but what is chronic inflammation , what is it all about ? What happens in the body? Here you get an overview of what is hidden behind the chronic / silent inflammation.
What is inflammation?
“Inflammation” – that sounds kind of bad, doesn’t it?
In fact, inflammation is a vital thing without which neither you nor I would be sitting here.
Because inflammation is fundamental when it comes to the immune system and our health. The only problem is when they get out of hand and fail too much or become chronic.
First of all, inflammation is something natural and important: inflammation is an acute activation of the immune system as a result of damage or infection.
Without inflammation, we could only survive a few days, as pathogens would spread very quickly in our body, and the many small injuries that we experience every day would at some point add up and overload the body.
Acute symptoms of inflammation
Have you ever stepped on a Lego brick, cut your finger, had a broken bone or was sick in bed for a few days with an infection?
If you were able to answer even one of these questions with yes, you have already felt firsthand what inflammation is. An acute inflammation, mind you.
In acute inflammation, we speak of five main symptoms:
- Heat generation
- Limited function
- (if there is a wound: blood clotting)
Let’s assume a minor injury. You cut your finger. What happens then? It hurts, the finger becomes thick, becomes hot and red, and the finger can only be used to a limited extent.
It’s all part of the inflammatory process. A tissue was injured (damage) and an immune barrier was damaged.
Pathogens can enter the body through this wound and infect it.
Therefore, the body starts the inflammatory response to both close the wound and eliminate pathogens and to stimulate the regeneration of the damaged area. Because regeneration and healing processes are also guided by the immune system.
Every single aspect of the inflammatory response helps eliminate the dangers and stimulate self-healing:
- The pain is there so that you can feel the wound and use the affected area less until the wound has healed.
- Redness and swelling are there to stimulate the flow of blood and lymph into the damaged tissue – and thus immune cells and nutrients as well.
- The restricted movement function should also contribute to protection.
- The heat is generated by the immune system – part of an inflammatory reaction is always that the immune system actively fights the pathogens with sharp weapons. As a side effect, the temperature in the tissue involved increases – because heat can kill bacteria.
Inflammatory reactions can also be systemic, i.e. throughout the body. This is the case with systemic infections, when you have been hit by a flu virus and the virus has spread throughout your body. Now the immune system has to deploy somewhat larger guns and start an inflammatory reaction throughout the body:
- You have diffuse pain in your muscles, cartilage, and joints, and maybe your head
- You feel tired and exhausted (restricted function)
- The blood pressure rises and you can feel your heart “thumping” (blood flow)
- You are alternately hot or cold and you sweat a lot (heat build-up)
- this type of inflammation is not localized, as is the case with a cut in the finger, but is throughout the body, and is much more severe. The molecular mechanisms behind it, however, are the same.
How does an inflammatory process work?
An inflammatory process always has the same sequence:
- Damage or pathogens are recognized by immune proteins or patrolling immune cells.
- If a nerve has been injured, it sends out a pain signal
- Locally involved immune cells react to the damage or the pathogen by activating a protein complex called an “inflammasome”.
- When the inflammasomes are activated, inflammation-promoting messenger substances such as IL-1ß, NFκB or TNFα are generated
- This attracts and activates more immune cells.
- To make this possible and to accelerate it, the blood flow in the tissue increases.
- If there is a wound, the inflammatory reaction leads to blood clotting (by the platelets) – this prevents further blood leakage.
- The activated immune cells now begin their work – some look for and eat pathogens, others eliminate dead body cells, others shoot around with sharp weapons (free radicals) in the hope of catching as many enemies as possible.
- Healing processes are then stimulated – by the immune cells themselves as well as by stem cells in the tissue.
- Once the damage has been removed and the wound mended, the immune cells form pain reliever (e.g. endorphins, endocannabinoids ) and inflammation- relieving (e.g. resolvins) messenger substances. As a result, the inflammatory reaction subsides again, the immune cells go their way again and the tissue swells.
- In the best case, everything is exactly the same as before, the immune system has done its work and the body is back in equilibrium.
But what happens if the damage is not repaired? What if the infection cannot be cleared?
Then there is chronic inflammation in the body :
What is Chronic Inflammation?
Acute inflammation is vital and natural.
It becomes problematic when inflammation becomes chronic.
Inflammation is a stress reaction for the body, a struggle for survival. Inflammation is very energy-intensive and for the moment robs the body of many nutrients and resources and means stress . Stress should never become chronic.
Similar to stress, inflammatory reactions should therefore only be short and sweet.
If they become chronic, problems arise because:
- The immune system is permanently “turned over” and tends to overreact and dysregulate reactions
- The body loses important nutrients and resources
- Hormonal and immunological equilibria are shifting
- Repair and regeneration processes are only possible to a limited extent
- The immune system produces excess free radicals
- The nervous system is also stressed
- The intestinal flora no longer feels completely well and begins to react abnormally
- The many free radicals and limited regeneration lead to damage in tissues anywhere in the body
- Since the immune system is constantly busy, it can take care of other areas of activity, such as eliminating tumor cells or communicating with the intestinal flora – the risk of chronic diseases increases
- Oxidative processes (through the free radicals) in the blood and in the lymph are increasing more and more – fatty acids oxidize to trans fats, cholesterol oxidizes and is deposited on the blood vessels
- The blood vessels constrict and the blood flow in the body decreases
- Blood clots develop because the blood platelets in the body can be activated by the many inflammatory factors even without a wound
- Mental health suffers from permanent stress and mental illnesses and moods arise
- The immune barriers become permeable and there are even more pathogens and toxins in the body – a vicious cycle.
… This could go on forever.
As soon as inflammation becomes chronic, the body’s own equilibrium is lost as the body is in an ongoing struggle for survival. When the body’s own equilibrium is lost, we speak of diseases in biochemistry.
This is why it is so important to prevent and, if present, alleviate the development of chronic inflammation. Because almost every chronic illness is also related to chronic inflammation and is nourished and intensified by them.
In the sustainable therapy of a chronic disease, the inflammatory processes must therefore always be taken into account – that is the basis.
Because they are extremely unnatural, lead to premature aging of the body and leave you exhausted and drained.
So we can hold on to chronic inflammation:
- The causes of the actual inflammatory reaction persist and cannot be eliminated.
- The immune system is therefore permanently overactive and tends to react incorrectly and overproduce free radicals.
- Permanent inflammation triggers can be toxins that enter the body and cannot or only slowly be detoxified.
- These can be pathogens that the immune system cannot eliminate on its own (viruses, bacteria, microfungi, parasites).
- This can be tissue damage that the body cannot or only very slowly regenerate (eg knee problems, “back “, leaky gut syndrome ).
- Or problematic food components – from foods that we eat regularly although they are not good for us (keyword: unhealthy diet).
Many triggers ( ” trigger “) for chronic inflammatory reactions are obvious, others are not.
Some you might even expect if you listened to yourself a little, others not.
>> You can find out more about this at the free online chronic inflammation congress *
hronic inflammation is mostly silent
Chronic inflammation is also known as “silent inflammation”. In English one speaks of ” silent inflammation ” or ” low-grade inflammation “.
Most chronic inflammation is systemic, that is, throughout the body, and is silent. That makes them difficult to spot, diagnose, and treat.
Of course, there is also chronic inflammation that is local and causes pain there, for example with arthritis in the knee joint. Here, too, damage can only be repaired with difficulty, if at all, and cartilage tissue regenerates only slowly.
The smoldering fire in the body
Do you understand now why I like to compare an acute inflammation with a fire, whereas a chronic, silent inflammation, on the other hand, is a smoldering fire?
A silent ignition is not as visible and clear as a fire – it is silent, quiet and blazes in secret.
It, too, causes problems, pain, and is resource-consuming – but it’s hard to find and even harder to get rid of.
Silent inflammation: the body is an artist of adaptation
What makes chronic inflammation so difficult to recognize is that you can not feel it or only feel it slightly.
The reason for this is the body’s enormous adaptability: “Background noise”, as it is usually silent inflammation, is faded out over time and is no longer consciously perceived. This means that we get used to our chronic inflammation and its impact on our quality of life.
We get used to not waking up early and starting the day tired. We get used to needing a nap after eating. We get used to falling asleep in front of the television in the evening. We get used to lying in bed sick several times a year. And you can get used to the constant headache – put in the aspirin, done. Don’t worry about it any further.
We get so used to our current state and our limited quality of life that after a good detox or after eliminating important inflammation triggers, it is a huge aha moment when you realize what health really is – not just staying away from illness , but a fantastic energy and well-being – every day.
To get there, chronic inflammation must be recognized and eliminated:
Rapid test for chronic inflammation: are you affected too?
Now you are probably wondering whether you are also affected by chronic inflammation in the body .
Here I have a simple quick test for you:
- How do you feel when you wake up after 7-8 hours of sleep in the morning?
- Are you fresh as the morning
- Are you still totally hungover ?
- How easy is it for you to get up?
- Do you have a coated tongue?
- Are your joints painful?
- Do you have headache?
- Do you have other diffuse pain in your body?
- Do you have dark circles under your eyes despite getting enough sleep?
The more often you answered yes to these questions, the higher the likelihood that you will be affected by chronic inflammation. The causes for this can be varied.
The test is of course only rough – you can use blood values to clarify more precisely whether you have chronic inflammation:
Chronic Inflammation Blood Markers
Often you cannot tell from the body that smoldering fires are burning in it or “that the back is constantly pinching”.
We will also talk about some external factors in a moment.
But first of all it’s about the “inner values” – your blood values. Your blood doesn’t lie and can often reveal valuable information about your health that you don’t even realize.
So if you have small smoldering fires in your body, your blood will most likely know more about them.
A large blood analysis at the doctor’s is of great help in this regard.
Alternatively, a blood test at home is also a good option – for example the ” myHealth & Fitness Premium *” from Lykon, which measures iron , ferritin, omega 3 fatty acids and important hormones as well as hs-CRP.
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These blood tests can indicate chronic inflammation:
- Liver values
- Iron and ferritin
- Hemoglobin (decreased)
- Red blood cells and white blood cells (decreased)
- IL-1β, IL-6, IL-10
- Blood sugar levels (fasting insulin & glucose, Hb1Ac)
- oxidized LDL
In order to clarify chronic inflammation in the body, it is advisable to always pay attention to several values - a value alone does not say much, but the mixture can tell an experienced therapist a lot about the tendency towards inflammation and inflammatory processes in the body.
Symptoms of chronic inflammatory processes
Of course, in the case of chronic inflammation, we should always differentiate between silent and non-silent inflammatory processes.
Here I want to discuss possible symptoms of silent inflammation – the inflammation that is not as obvious, like an injury or an arthritic knee.
These symptoms are very common and usually cannot be taken seriously by conventional medicine because they are diffuse and elusive.
These symptoms clearly indicate that there could be silent inflammation:
- Presence of a chronic, long-term illness (almost always associated with chronic inflammation)
- a headache
- Irritable bowel syndrome ( constipation , gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea )
- Constant fatigue
- Shifted day-night rhythm
- Susceptibility to infections
- Sensitivity to hay fever
- Joint discomfort
- Depressive moods and listlessness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Slow-working thyroid
- Obesity (one of the main triggers for silent inflammation)
- Tendency to be overweight
- Food intolerance
- Increased irritability
- Problems building muscle
- Impaired fertility , unfulfilled desire to have children
- In women: absent periods, menstrual pain and increased menstrual bleeding
How many of these factors do you have?
Do you see them as “normal” or are you skeptical about the symptoms and wonder what the reasons and causes are?
I can tell you: It is our natural state to stand in our full strength and enjoy fantastic health, well-being and energy. It is not normal to have certain aches and pains all the time.
It is not normal to gain more and more waist girth with old age, to be prescribed the first antihypertensive drugs at 45 and the first statins at 50.
It is not normal to be sick in bed 2-3 times a year with a cold .
… and chronic inflammation are the most important obstacle to getting into our full energy.
The Chronic Inflammation Congress – Everything about chronic inflammation, causes and treatment tips
In the last few months I have been working under high pressure on the “Chronic Inflammation Online Congress”. I interviewed over 24 top experts from different fields to answer a question:
How can chronic inflammation be reliably detected and eliminated once and for all ?
Which everyday habits feed the inflammatory processes, which can help with relief?
Which foods can trigger inflammation, which foods can sustainably alleviate?
Do dietary supplements make sense and if so, which ones?
Almost every chronic illness is triggered or even exacerbated by inflammatory processes – understanding and eliminating them is fundamentally important for your health and can have effects that you do not think possible.