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16 Signs of Chronic Inflammation You Probably Didn’t Realize

Chronic inflammation is the culprit behind most diseases.

You may not feel it or even sense it, but it could be bubbling up inside you.

What’s Chronic Inflammation and What Factors Lead to It

Conditions-supplements-that-promote-bone-healingIt’s important to understand that there are two types of inflammation: chronic and acute.

Acute inflammation is your body’s first response to intruders. It shows up as redness, heat, swelling and pain.

You will see acute inflammation in action in response to things like:

Ingrown and infected toenails, sore throat, a scratch on the skin, and intense exercise.

Acute inflammation is different from chronic inflammation. It happens quickly (rapid onset) and soon becomes severe. Symptoms and signs are only present for a few days, or in some cases may last for several weeks. But ultimately, it’s short and temporary.

Chronic inflammation on the other hand means long-lasting inflammation. It’s slow and can take days to show up and is often severe and progressive. It can stick around for several months or even years.

Now there are many risk factors that can lead to chronic inflammation. Some of them include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Stress
  • Diet (high sugar intake and processed foods)
  • Not enough exercise
  • Obesity

And if you choose to put your body through these risk factors for an extended period of time, it not only increases your risk of chronic inflammation, but can speed up aging, your risk of diabetes, dementia and many other diseases or conditions you don’t want!

So the sooner you figure out if you have chronic inflammation and can make adjustments to your lifestyle, the better.

The following are some warning signs of chronic inflammation. (But if you want to know for certain, go see your doctor, these warning signs are not a substitute for lab testing.)

The 16 Signs of Chronic Inflammation You Probably Didn’t Realize

When a disease associated with chronic inflammation shows up, it is a major red flag. The following 16 conditions are caused by inflammation or may at the same time, cause inflammation to occur:

  1. Celiac Disease: Is a chronic autoimmune/inflammatory disease that affects 1%-2% of people in the U.S. Gluten is found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. When people with celiac disease eat gluten-containing foods, it causes inflammation and can damage tissues and organs throughout the body.Signs of Chronic Inflammation
  2. Autism: Recent studies have shown inflammation may be a marker of autism. While there are many factors leading to autism, researchers reveal that brains affected by autism share a pattern of inflammation. Further research is needed.
  3. Cancer: Studies have established links between chronic low level inflammation and many types of cancer such as prostate, lung, ovarian lymphoma, and pancreatic.
  4. Asthma: Asthma is a disease that affects the airways that carry oxygen to your lungs. If you suffer from this chronic, long-lasting condition you are said to be asthmatic. An asthmatic’s airways are swollen or inflamed and are extremely sensitive to irritations.
  5. Rheumatoid Arthritis: Is an inflammatory disease that causes chronic inflammation in the joints. It results in pain and immobility, especially in fingers, wrists and ankles.
  6. Alzheimer’s: Studies have found that chronic inflammation is a trigger for this disease.
  7. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Compresses the median nerve that passes through your wrist. This compression results from swelling (inflammation) inside your wrist.
  8. Crohn’s Disease: Is an inflammatory bowel disease that damages the digestive tract.
  9. Gallbladder Disease: The majority of gallbladder diseases are caused by inflammation. This comes from irritation of the gallbladder wall.
  10. Fibromyalgia: The role of inflammation in fibromyalgia has been debated for decades. But recent research suggests that inflammation may be a core feature of this illness.
  11. Cardiovascular Disease: Inflammation plays a huge role in atherosclerosis, which is a disease that is characterized by deposits of fatty material on the inner walls.  
  12. Kidney Failure: Inflammation contributes to the progression of chronic kidney disease and a chronic pro-inflammatory state is known in patients with chronic kidney disease.
  13. Multiple Sclerosis: Is an inflammatory immune condition that causes problems throughout the body.
  14. Osteoporosis: According to recent studies, chronic inflammation can elevate your osteoporosis risk by increasing your levels of inflammatory cytokines – which can induce bone loss.
  15. Pancreatitis: Pancreatitis means inflammation of the pancreas. Symptoms include nausea, indigestion and pain on your left side that goes around to your back.
  16. Psoriasis: Is an inflammatory disease that causes inflammation mainly in your joints, but can affect other parts of your body as well.

As you can see, chronic inflammation is the leading cause of many diseases. And the crazy part about it is, there are plenty more than the 16 I listed today with inflammation at its root!

Instead of covering all of them, I wanted to give you an idea of all the different forms of havoc chronic inflammation can play in your body. I don’t do it to scare you (I hope I didn’t!) but to help you (I hope I did!).

The point is, silent inflammation is something we should spend time learning about and being proactive about preventing in our lives with diet, exercise, sleep and positive mental attitude.  They are all huge topics, but well worth learning about.  

We will continue to share insights on these topics over the months to come.


Author: Monica Straith, BS

Monica is the PR and Outreach Manager and Fitness Lead at AlgaeCal. She’s an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Specialist, and has a B.S. and B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she played varsity soccer for four years. Monica pulls from her experience in athletics and health to contribute to AlgaeCal and has also been featured on myfitnesspal blog, Prevention, and Huffington Post.