With all the talk of solving our inflammation problems, do you know what is causing it in the first place? There is a wide variety of things that can cause inflammation in our body. We can roughly separate the causes into three categories, infection, irritation, and injury. When we discuss our immune system we commonly think about infections that the impact these have on us.
Infections can be bacterial, viral, fungal, and even some parasites. Bacteria are single celled organisms and often can form groups such as the plaque on our teeth. They can be both internal such as with a cold or they can be skin infections. Viral infections, like the flu and HIV, hijack our cells to reproduce themselves. They insert their DNA into our cells. This is what makes them so problematic; they hide in our own cells. This is one reason why vaccination for the flu can be important.
Fungal infections can happen internally but we most commonly think of yeast infections in the urogenital system. We always have fungus on our body but sometimes one species can take over. What we want is a balance, just like with healthy bacteria found on and in our entire body. Parasites, such as worms and malaria, most affect our body by eating up our essential nutrients and energy sources. They lower our energy and may live in us for ages before we know it. Some, like worms, are easy to get rid of, but others are not and can easily lead to chronic inflammation such as in Lyme disease.
Irritations that stimulate our immune system are our allergens. Allergens can get into our body a few different ways. They can be absorbed through the mucosa in our nose and respiratory tract, absorbed through our skin, or absorbed through our digestive tract. In order to have an irritation or an allergic reaction to something it must get into our body through one of these methods. We communicate with the world through these paths and we are exposed to everything either by eating, breathing, or touching. Getting sick through our respiratory system is common for all of us; this is how we get colds and flus and react to seasonal allergens usually.
We have all heard of getting a bee sting and swelling up like a balloon. This is a classic acute inflammation case but we can have more chronic inflammation in our skin as well. These are our eczemas and psoriasis, chronic inflammation often due to irritations either on our skin or systemic through our whole body. As mentioned earlier in this guidebook, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD or IBS) is becoming very common. It is becoming more accepted that the method of this happening is through chronic inflammation in the body opening up larger spaces between cells in the digestive tract. When this happens, molecules that are not supposed to be absorbed are absorbed and they stimulate an even worse inflammatory reaction specific to the digestive tract.
Injuries our body experience are usually hard to miss. We cut our hand when slicing vegetables. We break out leg in a fall down the stairs. We have surgery for something. These injuries all cause inflammation so that our bodies can heal. Usually we heal nicely from injuries but sometimes they can turn into chronic inflammation. This is the case with chronic back pain which usually has an initial injury associated with it. There can be other injuries and damage going inside our body we may not be aware of. Injures and tissue damage include things like cancer which are very hard to detect without modern technology. They all cause inflammation.
This is everything that causes inflammation right? Most of these things are not in our control and we cannot change if we are exposed to the irritants, illnesses, and accidental tissue damage. This is not true though for the different wellness inputs that can cause inflammation. Wait! Things we do for our wellness can cause inflammation too? If you want to learn about how to minimize inflammation that comes naturally, check out our book: A Beginner’s Guide to Wellness.