Not everyone feels great the moment they wake up, and that's OK. You might need to stretch, move, or give your coffee time to sink in before you can successfully shake free of grogginess. But if you
wake up with a few weird symptoms, especially if they seem out of the ordinary, consider how it might be a sign you have too much inflammation.
"Inflammation is most common in the morning, specifically after sleep, because the first movements following sleep are a sudden change of pace for the body, effectively disrupting the proteins that it produces when lying completely still," Dr. David Greuner, of
NYC Surgical Associates, tells Bustle.
These symptoms can be worse if you have an inflammation-related illness. "Due to inflammation being a natural and protective response of the immune system, people who suffer from
joint injuries or arthritis are likely to see inflammatory swelling in these joints in particular," Dr. Greuner says. "The sudden and renewed movements of the morning send a signal to the body to protect the sore or wounded region, causing increased swelling, stiffness, and pain upon waking up."
The good new is, there are quite a few
ways to lower inflammation, Dr. Greuner says, including taking anti-inflammatory medications, eating more anti-inflammatory foods — such as ginger, fresh fruit, and olive oil — and, of course, letting your doctor know if symptoms don't go away.
Read on below for a few of the symptoms that might crop up in the morning if
you have inflammation, according to experts.
Your Breath Smells Like Ammonia
It's common to wake up with
smelly morning breath, all thanks to the bacteria party that goes on inside your mouth while you sleep. But if your breath smells more like ammonia than anything else, it could be a sign of inflammation.
While it may sound strange, "one of the waste products that your body typically produces when fighting infection is ammonia," Dr. Boryana Nikolova, owner and head dentist at
92 Dental, tells Bustle. "If your body [has] a lot of inflammation then you can produce excessive levels of ammonia."
And that can present itself in the form of not-so-great breath. "This excess ammonia can be excreted both through urine and through respiration (breathing)," she says. "Ammonia is strong smelling and therefore if it is in in the body in excessive levels can cause bad breath."
It's fairly common to feel a bit sore when you wake up, seeing as you haven't moved for an entire night. But morning stiffness can also be a sign of inflammation, possibly as a result of overexertion, excessive strenuous activity, dehydration, infections, or even an autoimmune disorder,
family and emergency medicine doctor Janette Nesheiwat, MD , tells Bustle.
"We can combat this by staying hydrated, [stretching] before exercising, [eating] a well-balanced diet, physical therapy, and sometimes [over-the-counter medications]," Dr. Nesheiwat says. "If symptoms worsen or persist, see your doctor to ensure no other underlying disease."
Morning nausea can be a sign of many things, including excess inflammation, Dr. Nesheiwat says. If you feel sick in the morning, remember that simple lifestyle changes can help lower inflammation and reduce symptoms, including eating a well-balanced diet, exercising, and staying hydrated. If that doesn't help, though, see a doctor.
One sign of inflammation that's most easy to identify is "swelling and redness of joints in body parts such as the knees, ankles, fingers and toes," Dr. Greuner says. "This swelling is typically accompanied by painful and limited mobility of joints."
If you wake up with red, painful joints, let a doctor know so they can search for the underlying cause, and offer the course of best treatment.
"One of the lesser-known effects of inflammation is a heated sensation in the inflamed regions, due to the body’s tendency to send an increased flow of blood to these sensitive joints," Dr. Greuner says. Are your knees, ankles, or fingers warm to the touch when you wake up, or at other points of the day? If so, let a doctor know.
If your body is full of inflammation, some signs might include digestive problems, such as constipation or diarrhea, author and nutritionist
Dr. Daryl Gioffre, tells Bustle. And one possible cause is leaky gut syndrome, "which is caused by toxins damaging the lining of the stomach and intestines and seeping to the blood," he says.
The best way to deal with this issue is to
improve your gut health by choosing foods that not only support your digestive system, but also help prevent it from becoming more inflamed.
You're More Tired Than Usual
Again, not everyone leaps out of bed in the morning. But if you constantly wake up feeling fatigued, even after getting a full night's sleep, you may want to look into inflammation as a possible cause.
"When your body has to fight inflammation, it completely drains your energy," Dr. Gioffre says. "So no matter how much rest you get, and no matter what time of day it is, you feel like a zombie."
You Have An Intense Sugar Craving
While there's nothing wrong with having a sugary cereal, donut, or baked good for breakfast, if your body positively
craves these things, it could be a sign you're dealing with excess inflammation.
"The Standard American Diet (SAD) is filled with high sugar and high carbs, which leads to inflammation," Dr. Gioffre says. "If you are craving sugar and carbs, it could be traced to inflammation, but also to a mineral deficiency, specifically magnesium."
It can help to alter your lifestyle just a bit, and lower your consumption of sugary foods to see if that helps, while also increasing your intake of
essential vitamins and minerals.
Your Skin Is Breaking Out
"Waking up with breakouts is also a sign of inflammation," Dr. Gioffre says, so it's important to pay attention to this subtle yet pesky sign. It could mean your body is working overtime to get rid of inflammation, and thus may be your cue to make a few lifestyle changes.
There are plenty of ways to
lower inflammation in the body, including drinking more water, exercising, and eating anti-inflammatory foods, among other things.
Do these things, and you might notice that you feel less "weird" in the morning. But if not, let a doctor know so they can assess the situation, and figure out what else might be going on.