What is Inflammation?

Inflammation is your body’s natural way of healing itself through the immune system and defending itself against ‘foreign invaders’, aka ‘bugs’! It is usually a process that turns on when required, and then turns off again. It involves white cells, chemical mediators and chemical toxins, and the growth of new blood vessels.

Classic characteristics of inflammation are seen for example when there is any wound healing.

We see the signs of: heat, redness, pain and swelling in any area that is inflamed.

Such as for example, a mosquito bite!

Inflammation in this setting is normal, and is called ‘acute inflammation’. This is natural and desired, but in abnormal states the immune system can be hyper-activated and permanently ‘switched on’, becoming known as ‘chronic inflammation’ resulting in disease. Autoimmune connective tissue diseases are part of a chronic inflammatory state as there is permanent activation of the immune system with the immune system trained to attack its own body.

There are different cells of the immune system and different chemicals involved in acute and chronic inflammation and thus the impact on the body is different.

There are different forms of chronic inflammation depending on which aspect of the immune system has been activated, this is why there are different cells involved in different autoimmune diseases and thus different responses to treatments!

Inflammation is not the same as infection.

Infection is when there is a foreign organism such as a bacteria or virus in the body causing a lot of inflammation as the body tries to defend itself.

Inflammation is the innate process of the immune system in response to a foreign organism, or injury to the body.

You can have inflammation without an infection, but inflammation is always the end result of an infection as the body needs to defend itself!