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Chronic Inflammation

Inflammation is a generalized response of the body when affected by a trauma or an infection. Inflammatory response is a significant indication of the body's immune system reaction. A cascade of events usually follow inflammation based on which the form of inflammation is determined as acute or chronic. Acute inflammatory response is short lived but chronic inflammation is a progressive form.

Inflammatory response cascade consists of tissue necrosis, fibrous granulation, lymphocyte aggregation and collagen damage. Although the body's natural response with respect to tissue damage is activated; a dormant stage can also occur in some cases of chronic inflammation such as the stalemate stage in which the balance between damaged tissue and fresh tissue is not neutralized. In some cases chronic inflammatory diseases can also be caused as result of autoimmune diseases.


Clinical manifestations

Chronic inflammatory disease can occur in various parts of the body. It activates the production of macrophages and T- Cell immune response to prevent apoptosis of the healthy tissue. In most cases the diseases associated with chronic inflammatory responses are asymptomatic in the acute phase. The chronic form infectious diseases primarily occurs because of immune comprised status of the host.

Inflammatory response is also caused by irritants such as uric acid crystals, which are endogenous materials and other irritants such as silica, asbestos and prosthetic materials. Other clinical manifestations of chronic inflammatory disease are associated with underlying medical conditions such as organ specific like Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and non organ specific such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease and inflammatory bowel disease.

Anti-inflammatory drugs are recommended in most cases for chronic inflammation. One of the most successful ways to treat persistent inflammation is to include foods that have high anti-inflammatory properties. Fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, pineapple, avocados and diary products such as yoghurt have potent anti-inflammatory properties.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Painful, stiff joints are the primary symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease resulting in chronic inflammation of the joints. More than one joint is usually affected. Women are more predisposed to contracting rheumatoid arthritis. It usually sets in when a person is between 40 - 60 years. The exact reason for the autoimmune system attack is not known. This condition is hereditary and can be brought about by environmental and hormonal factors. Tissues around the joint become inflamed in a rheumatoid arthritic condition. During an attack of rheumatoid arthritis, symptoms such as fatigue, lack of appetite, low grade fever and joint stiffness are noticed. The symptoms are most notable in the morning or after long periods of inactivity. These attacks come and go.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive disease that can lead to joint destruction and functional disability. Multiple joints including small joints of the hands and wrist are often affected. Rheumatoid arthritis can be extremely debilitating, thereby making simple chores painful. In fact, rheumatoid arthritis can even affect the salivary glands, tear glands and heart and lungs.


A rheumatologist will diagnose the condition based on blood test, x-rays and physical examination. The joints are examined for inflammation and deformity and presence of rheumatoid nodules. In persons suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, blood antibodies such as citrulline are noticed. Arthrocentesis or extraction of joint fluid is also conducted. There is no known cure for rheumatoid arthritis. Medication is prescribed to relieve joint inflammation and prevention deformation of the joints. First-line drugs like corticosteroids or aspirin are used to reduce pain and inflammation whereas second-line drugs such as methotrexate and hydroxychloroquine are prescribed for preventing progressive joint destruction. An exercise regimen may need to be followed for preventing work disability and strengthening the joints.


Sinusitis

When your sinuses (air chambers in the bone behind your cheeks, eyebrows and jaw) are inflamed or infected, it leads to sinusitis. The different sinus areas are:


Frontal sinus – on the brow area
Maxillary sinuses – inside each cheekbone
Ethmoid sinuses – behind the nose bridge and between the eyes
Sphenoid sinuses – behind the ethmoids in the upper region of the nose


When the sinuses are blocked, the mucus is not sufficiently drained thereby leading to sinusitis. Sinusitis occurs when trapped air lays pressure and causes pain in the sinus regions. Typically, sinusitis follows a cold or respiratory ailment. The increased mucus and fungal production leads to inflammation in the nasal passage. Often a structural defect in the nasal cavity or weakened immune system can be the cause for a sinus attack. Allergic rhinitis can bring on an attack of sinusitis. The symptoms and pain associated with sinusitis depend on the affected sinus. Damp weather, environmental pollutants and asthma often lead to sinus attacks. This inflammation is usually the result of a viral infection, an allergy (pollen, dust, pet dander, molds, and food), or an environmental irritant such as air pollution, perfume or cigarette smoke. Persons suffering from chronic inflammation of the nasal passages have an increased risk of suffering sinusitis. Swimming, diving, nasal polyps, smoking or alcohol consumption can lead to blocked sinuses. Air travel is yet another possible trigger.


Acute sinus infection lasts for about a fortnight whereas chronic sinus infection festers longer, for months or years. Most affected persons tend to suffer from acute sinus infection. Typical symptoms of sinus infection:


  • Pain over frontal sinuses
  • Headache
  • Swelling of eyelids or tissues around the eyes
  • Earache
  • Neck pain
  • Stuffy nose
  • Facial tenderness
  • Bad breath
  • Ache in the upper teeth
  • Nasal congestion

Blood tests and cultures aid in diagnosing and detecting bacterial or fungal infections. Acute sinusitis is treated with antibiotics to control the bacterial infection. Decongestants and painkillers can provide relief to those suffering from sinus infection. On the other hand, chronic sinusitis may need to be treated with steroid nasal sprays. But prolonged use of such products are not without side-effects. Allergies and infections that contribute to the sinus infection must be appropriately treated. Children suffering from chronic sinus infection are treated with removal of adenoids. Functional endoscopic sinus surgery is performed on severe cases of chronic sinusitis where the natural openings of the sinuses are dilated to allow drainage of accumulated mucus.


Home remedies for treating sinus infections
1. Steam inhalation
2. Gentle warm compress on painful area
3. Use of electrostatic filters attached to heating and air conditioning equipment
4. Saline nasal spray
5. Rest with your head elevated to help drain your sinuses
6. Drink plenty of fluids and warm liquids in order to thin mucus

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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: October 16, 2017