Annapolis Integrative Medicine
1819 Bay Ridge Avenue
Annapolis, MD 21403
Inflammation: The Cause of Many Health Problems
Inflammation is a normal physical response to various harmful stimuli, such as infections, irritants and trauma. When appropriately regulated and short lived, inflammation is crucial to maintaining our survival.
However chronic uncontrolled inflammation can result in destruction of tissues and lead to chronic disease. Tests that may reveal chronic inflammation include the sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein. Examples of diseases which may result from or cause chronic inflammation include coronary artery disease, certain cancers, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, acne, asthma and celiac disease. Other conditions which contribute to inflammation include diabetes, osteoporosis, periodontitis, obesity and chronic fatty liver disease. Most of the chronic diseases we currently deal with in our society have at least an element of inflammation.
The conventional medical model dictates determining the disease at hand and then prescribing the matching medicine. This can help turn down the volume on the inflammatory response, for example using steroids, but does not deal with the roots of the disease.
So what are the underlying causes of inflammation?
Chronic infections causing inflammation including bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic infections – the COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder of the acute and chronic impact of this form of inflammation. Studies have even shown that plaque on arteries can contain bacterial DNA. Some of these infections can be hidden, especially in areas like the sinuses and roots of teeth, and can be difficult to detect, as the bacteria that causes Lyme disease has proven to be difficult to detect. Considering that there may be infectious causes of chronic disease (including chronic stomach or intestinal issues) is the first step to doing the testing to find them.
Food allergies and intolerances can also provoke inflammation. Two of the most well known are wheat and gluten, but numerous people are also intolerant of other foods such as corn, soy and dairy. Chronic exposure to foods that provoke inflammation can cause pain, either in specific joints or diffusely, fogginess, abdominal pain, weight gain and other issues. The worst component of foods that contribute to inflammation is sugar.
Other sources of chronic inflammation include autoimmune disease, and finally there are toxic environmental substances that can provoke inflammation including mercury and mold exposure.
A few simple changes can help reduce inflammation. Reducing and managing stress and optimizing sleep can make a big difference. Reducing sugar and refined flours can help, and a trial off of wheat and gluten can help a surprising number of people. Safe and widely available supplements that can be helpful include fish and krill oil, curcumin and plant derived enzymes.
Seeking help from a knowledgeable physician to determine the presence root causes of inflammation can help greatly with a wide variety of health conditions.