September 24, 2023
What is chronic inflammation?
Chronic inflammation is the body’s long-term or delayed defense to injury or disease. Cells from the body’s immune system take part in this response. These cells include lymphocytes, plasma cells, eosinophils, and histiocytes.
What causes chronic inflammation?
Chronic inflammation can be caused by a variety of factors, and it often results from a complex interplay of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors.
Some common causes include:
- Autoimmune Disorders: Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis can trigger inflammation as the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues.
- Obesity: Excess body fat, especially in visceral adipose tissue (fat around organs), can release inflammatory chemicals into the bloodstream.
- Diet: A diet high in processed foods, trans fats, refined sugars, and excessive red meat can promote inflammation. Conversely, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation.
- Environmental toxins: Exposure to environmental pollutants, such as air pollution, can trigger an inflammatory response.
- Infections: Chronic infections can lead to ongoing inflammation. For example, chronic viral infections like hepatitis C or bacterial infections like tuberculosis can contribute to prolonged inflammation.
- Smoking: Smoking is a significant source of inflammation, as it introduces harmful chemicals into the body that can damage tissues and trigger an immune response.
- Excessive alcohol consumption: Chronic alcohol use can lead to inflammation in various organs, including the liver and pancreas.
- Aging: Aging itself can contribute to low-level chronic inflammation. This is thought to be related to the cumulative effects of cellular damage and immune system changes over time.
- Chronic Illnesses: Conditions like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease are associated with inflammation in various organs throughout the body.
Chronic inflammation may continue for a long period of time when the cause of the inflammation cannot be removed from the body or when cells from the immune system start behaving in an abnormal manner. If left untreated, this response can damage tissue and in some cases even lead to cancer.