Inflammation isn’t always bad

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Inflammation isn’t always bad

Too much of a good thing can be harmful to your health. Such is the case with inflammation.

Inflammation is a healthy and necessary function for healing. It is the body’s natural defense against toxins, infections, and injuries. There are two types of inflammation.

Acute (short-term) inflammation happens when the body works to repair a wound or fight an illness, such as a cut to the skin, fever, or sore throat. Inflammation can be caused by a virus, bacteria, autoimmune disorder, sugary and fatty foods, or stress. The swelling, redness, and warmth are signs the immune system is sending white blood cells to heal the affected area.

Unlike acute inflammation, chronic inflammation is a response that can damage the body instead of healing it. Its prolonged nature can cause lasting damage to the heart, brain, and other organs. Uncontrolled inflammation plays a role in almost every major disease, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Inflammation is especially bad when it occurs in the lungs. It can cause fluid accumulation and narrowing of the airways, making it difficult to breathe. Infections, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are characterized by inflammation in the lungs.

Smoking, air pollution, and household chemicals also have been linked to lung inflammation. COVID-19 can cause excessive inflammation in the lungs, as well as the heart, and brain. The virus can be especially dangerous since there is no vaccine or proven medications to treat the disease.

In some instances, lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of chronic inflammation, the Cleveland Clinic states. These include quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy body weight, reducing stress, and avoiding excessive alcohol use. In other instances, anti-inflammatory medications can be used to decrease inflammation, including aspirin, ibuprofen, and prescription drugs.