Inflammation is defined as a process in which the body responds to tissue injury as a form of defense.
Tissue injury can be caused by an infection, trauma (blunt or penetrating), and sometimes autoimmune response.
The purpose of inflammation is to destroy any infective microorganisms in the tissue or remove the offending foreign stimuli and to initiate tissue healing process.
How inflammation Occurs
When the body detects an infection or a foreign particle, it sends white blood cells and Immunoglobulins (Proteins designs to fight infections) to fight off the infection/foreign body.
In the process the chemicals produced destroy the microorganisms but also the tissue around gets damaged as well.
When the infection has been contained, tissue healing begins to occur and your skin or affected organ e.g. joint in the case of Arthritis begins to heal.
Sometimes your body may confuse its own tissues or organ and treat it as a foreign object, it then destroys itself in the process. That is how Autoimmune Diseases happen.
Two Types of Inflammation
Inflammation is classified into two main categories:
- Acute inflammation: this type of inflammation develops fast over few hours to few days and is usually associated with infections.
- Chronic Inflammation: It develops over a period of few weeks to many months, it is usually caused by autoimmune disorders and Cancer.
Signs and Symptoms of Inflammation
Here are 4 main signs that indicate inflammation:
- Erythema: Redness of the area
- Oedema: swelling
- Tenderness: pain on touch
Additional symptoms include loss of function e.g. limping which is caused by tissue destruction on the inflamed are.
Terminology Tip and Examples
In medicine when something is inflamed, the suffix “-itis” is added at the end of the term.
Here are examples:
- Arthritis: Joint inflammation
- Conjunctivitis: conjunctiva inflammation
- Hepatitis: liver inflammation
- Gastritis: stomach inflammation
- Cellulitis: skin inflammation