Inflammation is the body’s response to an injury or serious illness. This response leads to swelling and redness of the affected area. The swelling can often be associated with discomfort or pain. Swelling decreases when the fluid associated with inflammation decreases. The underlying physiological processes that initiate inflammation are explained in this article. Inflammation is a natural response that can help the body heal itself.
During acute inflammation, the body produces white blood cells called neutrophils to fight off the invading bacteria. These cells recognize bacteria by their antibodies that attach to their surfaces. They then release inflammatory mediators and enzymatic granules, causing inflammation. The inflammation response is also responsible for clotting of blood. Once the fluid associated with inflammation reduces, it is referred to as remission.
If an inflammatory response occurs throughout the body, it’s considered systemic. This is a condition that causes widespread swelling, low blood pressure, and clotting disorders. This condition eventually becomes a syndrome. Patients with severe inflammation may be diagnosed with Systemic Inflammatory Reaction Syndrome. This is a common medical diagnosis. However, it is important that any treatment for an inflammatory condition be personalized and focused on alleviating any discomfort or suffering.
Inflammation occurs when a cell releases inflammatory mediators that alter the fluid balance in the vascular spaces. This shifts the fluid balance and results in an accumulation of interstitial fluid. This fluid buildup is known as edema. It can be mild to life-threatening. Additionally, increased blood circulation can cause increased redness and heat. The increased blood flow increases the permeability of the blood vessels and allows for fluid to leak into the tissues.
Acute inflammation is caused by an acute injury. The swelling associated with it typically decreases when the fluid is removed. Chronic inflammation is caused by persistent exposure to the injurious agent. This condition can last for weeks, months, or even decades. It’s characterized by the presence of inflammatory cells (macrophages) within the injured area. These cells produce inflammatory cytokines, growth factors, and enzymes, which further damage the tissue.
Acute inflammation can last from minutes to days. The main features of acute inflammation are exudation of fluid and the emigration of leukocytes. Neutrophils, the most prevalent leukocytes, move from the blood vessels to perivascular tissues. This is made possible by adhesion molecules that alter the migratory behavior of leukocytes. Chemotaxis is the unidirectional migration white cells along a chemical gradient that controls leukocyte migration.