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Warning signs of inflammation

Warning signs of inflammation
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The trouble with inflammation is that when it hangs around it can lead to incredibly dangerous types of disease. Protect yourself by knowing these warning signs.

Acute inflammation

Acute inflammation
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Inflammation has been called both a friend and a foe. Acute inflammation is the body’s normal and complex reaction to a threat, whether bacteria, a burn or a sprain. “The body marshals its defences to prevent injury or infection,” says Alan Mensch, a doctor. Signs of acute inflammation include swelling, dilated blood vessels, heat, redness and pain. “Once the threat is gone, there are factors in the bloodstream that quiet things down again.”

Chronic inflammation

Chronic inflammation
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The chronic form of inflammation may not be as severe as the acute type, but it is dangerous: It’s related to many illnesses, ranging from bursitis, colitis, phlebitis and rhinitis to asthma, cardiac disease, liver disease and possibly Alzheimer’s disease. It can be difficult to know whether you have chronic inflammation in your body, Dr. Mensch says: “It depends on where and how chronic inflammation manifests itself. And it’s not the same in every person.” Here are some subtle signs to watch for.

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Fatigue

Fatigue
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“Tiredness is very commonly associated with chronic inflammation,” says Dr. Mensch. “It’s like you have the flu all the time.” An extensive body of research shows that people who feel chronically tired have higher markers for inflammation and pro-inflammatory compounds.

Of course, poor sleep could be the culprit to your overwhelming exhaustion. Here are 13 surprising things that could be causing your sleep woes. 

Joint pain

Joint pain
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Research links chronic inflammation with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In fact, studies show that in people who have RA and other forms of arthritis, the immune system releases inflammatory chemicals that attack the joints, causing swelling, pain and other symptoms.

Here are 5 arthritis myths busted.

Stomach problems

Stomach problems
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Bloating, diarrhoea, cramping and gassiness can be signs of Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, food allergies, and other stomach ailments – and all are connected to chronic inflammation. Everyone experiences these symptoms occasionally, but if they’re ongoing, tell your doctor.

Eat these 18 anti-inflammatory foods to reduce pain. 

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Watery eyes and runny nose

Watery eyes and runny nose
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Allergy symptoms, including itchy eyes and a stuffy nose, stem from chronic inflammation, research shows. These are signs that your body is trying to tell you something is wrong, says Dr. Mensch.

Here are seven ways to prevent make-up allergies. 

Red, itchy skin

Red, itchy skin
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“Chronic dermatitis could be a manifestation of chronic inflammation,” Dr. Mensch says. In fact, dermatitis is itself “inflammation of the skin.” If you have a rash that doesn’t go away or red, itchy dry skin patches, check with your doctor.

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Coughing and phlegm

Coughing and phlegm
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People who are suffering from bronchitis are experiencing an inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes. Symptoms include a persistent cough, thickened mucus, wheezing and chest tightening. “This can be a manifestation of chronic inflammation,” says Dr. Mensch.

Learn 10 more reasons why your cold and flu symptoms might be lingering. 

Gum trouble

Gum trouble
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Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums at the necks of the teeth. Periodontitis is inflammation affecting the bones and tissues of the teeth. Both may be signs of chronic inflammation. Gingivitis has also been linked to heart attack and stroke, says Dr. Mensch. Thorough teeth brushing, daily flossing and twice-yearly cleanings by a dental hygienist can help alleviate gum problems.

Here are 41 strange symptoms that could signal a serious disease. 

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– The Reader’s Digest team