9 Extremely Subtle Signs You Have Too Much Inflammation In Your Body
If you're experiencing signs that your body has inflammation it may crop up in a number of different ways, and be a sign of a number of different health concerns. Usually, inflammation is associated with joint health, since arthritis is one of the top causes of pain and swelling. But inflammation can come about due to other health issues, and show up in the form of other signs and symptoms, beyond just swollen joints.
While you want to tell your doctor if you notice any of these signs, keep in mind that not all inflammation is bad. "We have two types of inflammation: acute and chronic," nutrition coach Amanda Sauceda, MS, RDN,CLT tells Bustle. "Acute inflammation is important to our health because it helps us heal. Think about when you twist your ankle and it becomes hot, red, and swollen. That is part of our body's response to help heal the injury." And that'll got away, once your ankle is healed.
What you want to watch out for are signs of chronic inflammation, that doesn't ago away. "This is the type of inflammation that does more harm than good," Sauceda says. "Think of chronic inflammation like a fire that needs to be put out in the body. Chronic inflammation has a domino effect where it can trigger a cascade of symptoms that can negatively impact your health."
Chronic inflammation can be due to thing like arthritis, but also "can get triggered by a variety of things like genetic predisposition, diet ... [lack of] sleep, and lifestyle," Sauceda says. (You can get inflammation in your gut, for example, due to food allergies.) Here are a few signs your body is inflamed, that you may want to point out to your doctor.
Inflammation can be caused by too little sleep, as well as too much sleep. So, if you're falling short of or exceeding the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night, there's a good chance you have inflammation in your body.
So, why does this happen? "It seems that too little sleep or too much sleep throws the body's inflammatory response processes out of whack," Chris Brantner, sleep expert and founder of SleepZoo, tells Bustle. "As a result, your cells respond with inappropriate inflammation. It's almost as if your body treats inadequate sleep or too much sleep as it would an illness. It's as if it thinks it's sick and reacts accordingly. This might also explain part of why your body is more susceptible to viruses like the flu when you haven't been sleeping enough."
Fatigue can also be a side effect of other inflammatory issues. So if you've been feeling exhausted, despite getting the correct amount of sleep, let your doctor know. They can figure out why you're so tired, and begin to correct the underlying cause.
2. Chronic Pain
Do you have a bunch of aches and pains, that keep coming back? "Experiencing pain on a regular basis is a big indicator [of inflammation]," Cheryl Myers, RN, BA, chief of education and scientific affairs for Terry Naturally®, tells Bustle. "If you are not in pain, but have pain at the end of your range of motion (like rotating your shoulders back or touching your toes), that is associated with inflammation." Pain like this could be a sign that you have a type of arthritis, which is a major contributor to inflammation and pain in the body.
3. Gut Issues
While we all have the occasional bout of diarrhea or moment of gassiness, ongoing symptoms like these should tip you of to inflammation in the body.
"Inflammation in the gut can cause bloating, loose stools, urgency, and cramping," Myers says. And all of that could be a sign of a food allergy, or something like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn's disease, or another inflammation-causing issue in your gut. If you notice these issues, or feel like you never feel quite well, let your doctor know.
4. Swollen Lymph Nodes
Lymph nodes, which are primarily located in your neck, under your armpits, and near your groin, can swell up whenever something's amiss in your body. "Lymph nodes are 'hubs' for the immune system," Jessica DeLuise, MHS, PAC, founder of Eat Your Way to Wellness, LLC, tells Bustle. "We often notice enlarged nodes in our neck when we have a cold or sore throat. That is a good thing. It means our immune system recognizes and is addressing the current issue," whether it be a bacterial or viral infection. Your lymph nodes swell up as your body fights off the infection, and go back down once you're well again.
If your lymph nodes are always inflamed, however, or they hurt, definitely let your doctor know, as it could be a sign of a more chronic illness.
5. Swollen Nasal Passageways
While you might think seasonal allergies are to blame for your stuffed up nose, it could be a result of inflammation in your body. "The body can react in a variety of ways when inflammation is present," Dawn Viola, health and nutrition expert, and founder of This Honest Food, tells Bustle. "It's different for everyone, but common ways the body is trying to tell you something is wrong are: inflamed nasal cavities, which seem like a stuffy nose from seasonal allergies, watery eyes from pressure in the nasal cavity or behind the eyes," among other things.
"Inflammation is the body's way of fighting off something foreign and protecting itself, and can occur for a variety of reasons," Viola says. "We're all probably most familiar with the type of inflammation that results from a bump or bruise, but inflammation also occurs when we are exposed to chemicals, pesticides ... or foods that we may be sensitive or allergic to. Lack of sleep and stress also lead to inflammation in the body."
6. Skin Breakouts & Eczema
"Basically, if there is something showing on the outside or something that isn't feeling right on the inside, there is most likely inflammation," Viola says. Many people with internal inflammation suffer from eczema, acne breakouts, and dry skin, among other issues. This is often the body's way of telling something's "off" internally, so don't brush if off as NBD. Let your doctor look into other possible causes of skin issues.
7. Brain Fog
Believe it or not, inflammation can start to affect you mentally, as well. "In addition to the physical symptoms mentioned above, brain fog and the inability to think clearly can also occur, and can range from subtle, where you're just not feeling right but can't put your finger on it, to severe, where you completely forget what you're saying without being distracted, or are searching for words to complete your sentence," Viola says.
Usually, once inflammation is treated, symptoms like brain fog will start to lift. One great place to start, when it comes to lowering inflammation levels in the body, is with a few lifestyle changes. "Food is the easiest and least expensive way to control inflammation," Viola says. Fast foods, convenience foods, restaurant foods, and anything highly processed leads to elevated levels of inflammation in the body, and when this is coupled with a diet low in fruits and vegetables, nutrient deficiencies can result, leading to more inflammation." So start there, with healthy foods, to see if your inflammation improves.
Many people with chronic inflammation complain of digestive troubles, "such as constipation, diarrhea, and heartburn," Viola says. Things like heartburn can cause inflammation in the body, and it can be a result of it. It'll be up to your doctor to figure out what's going on, and treat your symptoms.
9. Headaches & Migraines
If you have headaches that keep coming back, it could be a sign of inflammation. "With migraine and headache sufferers, they can be affected by what is called 'Neurogenic Inflammation,'" Dr. Ariel Blackburn, of Art of Health Chiropractic, tells Bustle. "A neurologic examination should be performed on patients who are having recent onset of new headaches/migraines or changes in previous headaches/migraines to rule out any underlying disease."
But again, many times inflammation can be treated in a simple way. "Stress, tobacco smoking, and alcohol use can stimulate the inflammatory response and cause migraines [and] headaches," Dr. Blackburn says. "Relaxation techniques and exercise are wonderful to help decrease chronic stress." Which can, in turn, help decrease chronic inflammation.
If you notice any of these signs, let your doctor know. They can figure out if these symptoms are, in fact, due to inflammation, treat the underlying cause, and get you back to feeling like yourself again.