When something damages your cells, your body releases chemicals that trigger a response from your immune system, which includes the release of antibodies and proteins, as well as increased blood flow to the damaged area.
But inflammation can be harmful rather than helpful to human health. Evidence has shown that inflammation, which can be influenced by factors such as obesity, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle, contributes to a variety of diseases.
Acute inflammation happens quickly, usually within minutes, but is usually short-term. Signs of acute inflammation can include pain (continuously or only when the area is touched; redness; loss of function; swelling or heat (where the area is warm to the touch). These signs are not always present because sometimes inflammation does not have any symptoms. A person may also feel tired, generally unwell, and have a fever. Symptoms of acute inflammation last a few days, while subacute inflammation lasts 2–6 weeks.
Unlike acute inflammation, chronic inflammation can have long-term and whole-body effects, and over time, it can have a negative impact on your tissues and organs. In fact, Harvard Medical School claims it plays a central role in some of the most challenging diseases of our time, including rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and even Alzheimer's. Experts also believe inflammation may contribute to a wide range of chronic diseases, such as metabolic syndrome, which includes type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Common symptoms of chronic inflammation include fatigue, fever, mouth sores, rashes, abdominal pain and chest pain. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and last for several months or years.