Inflammation is the human body's immune system's response to a stimulus, especially the introduction of a foreign object or substance into the body. Foreign objects can be anything from bacteria to needles that are not normally present inside a human body. The reaction takes place as a result of the body's attempt to fight the presence of invaders so it can continue to run optimally without interference.
Basically, the symptoms of inflammation occur following the body's various immune system reactions, but are not a direct, intended result of the immune response.
Each of the symptoms of inflammation are caused by the unique processes of fighting invaders.
Redness & Hotness
People can characterize inflammation visually by its red hue and recognize its presence according to the sensation of heat that it evokes. Immune cells including bradykinin and histamine expand blood vessels in, on, and around affected tissue so the body can focus efforts on healing injured tissue. The additional blood flow causes the affected area to turn red and become hot.
The same hormones that help increase blood flow to injured tissue can also call on the central nervous system to respond. Most often, the response is the development of pain signals when inflamed tissue is stimulated. Normally innocuous tissue may become sensitive to touch, and noxious tissue is likely to become hypersensitive following the onset of inflammation.
Chronic inflammation may also be caused or affected by neural plasticity. In patients with arthritis, chronic inflammation can cause the nervous system to adapt as it becomes accustomed to sending nociceptive pain signals when inflamed tissue is irritated. A condition called allodynia, in which patients become vulnerable to pain at even a light touch, may develop.
Celebrex Anti-Inflammatory Drug for Arthritis
Inflammatory mediators like bradykinin and histamine also allow blood vessels to become more permeable. Decompressed vessels allow more defensive cells and fluid to enter the bloodstream, pushing the surrounding tissues up and out and causing swelling. The swelling subsides slowly as fluid exits decompressed blood vessels.
Fluid & Mucous Increase
Membranes responsible for mucous production also exhibit an increase in fluid production during inflammation. When you catch a cold or the flu, mucous producing membranes in your ears, nose, and throat become inflamed, and fluid is created and pushed out of the body to help force bacteria and viruses to exit.
Low Energy & High Fever
The feeling of general sickness, called malaise, accompanied by unusual fatigue and fever is a sign that your body is shifting resources to be able to activate the numerous processes required by the immune system. The presence of fever means that your metabolism has increased its workload so it can use more food faster to increase the body's store of defensive fluids and cells.
While the presence of inflammatory symptoms may be uncomfortable, it is often a sign that your body is working hard to eliminate the threat that affects your body. Some people's immune systems fail to target actual threats and instead attack healthy parts of the body, which causes chronic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, Crohn's disease, or ulcerative colitis. Inflammation can also be controlled by anti-inflammatory medications, but can slow the healing process of musculoskeletal injuries. For more information about treatments and medications for chronic inflammation, visit our Inflammation Conditions Page.