Written on March 29, 2023 by Theresa Vuskovich, DMD. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Inflammation is your body's natural defense against infection and injury. When your immune system begins fighting an infection or injury, inflammation occurs. Inflammation is defined as acute or chronic based on how long the immune system takes to repair the body. Acute or short-term inflammation can last for several days, while chronic or long-term inflammation can last for days or years [1-4]. This article aims to give you an overview of acute vs. chronic inflammation. Additionally, you will learn how EverlyWell can help you understand the inflammation in your body.
Acute inflammation occurs when your body experiences a physical injury, chemical irritant, or microorganism (bacteria, virus, etc.) [1,2]. The body mobilizes immune cells to repair damage and/or remove the invader.
During an acute inflammation response, neutrophils, a type of white blood cell, are the first immune cell to respond . Following neutrophils, T lymphocytes release pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines in response . Cytokines trigger the activation of additional immune cells.
Your body initiates the acute inflammation response as a form of self-protection. However, if the acute inflammation response gets out of hand, it can cause damage to your body. Acute inflammation symptoms can last up to six weeks .
Symptoms of acute inflammation vary based on the individual and the initiating factor. There are five symptoms of acute inflammation [1,2]:
Acute inflammation is caused by internal and external factors .
Chronic inflammation occurs when the immune system is activated for a prolonged period. Chronic inflammation can last months, years, or a lifetime depending on its cause . Chronic inflammation contributes to the development of many diseases, including the following :
While neutrophils are central to acute inflammation, macrophages, and plasma cells contribute to chronic inflammation. These cells prompt the release of other proteins that damage the tissues in your body . Over time, this damage accumulates, causing painful symptoms that impair your quality of life.
The symptoms of chronic inflammation include :
Some causes of chronic inflammation include [3,5]:
Medications are available to treat both acute and chronic inflammation :
An inflammation blood test measures your body's high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP). If you are at risk for chronic inflammation-related diseases, tracking your inflammation levels over time is beneficial.
Hs-CRP is produced by the liver in response to inflammation and can become elevated due to chronic conditions or medications . Your hs-CRP level can provide insight into your body's inflammation level and help you make informed decisions about your health.
Consider an inflammation test if you are experiencing any of the following:
You can prevent inflammation by taking the following steps :
Everlywell's Inflammation Test measures your body's level of hs-CRP as well as vitamin D. After you get your results, you can discuss the next steps with your healthcare provider. Bringing your Everlywell results to a healthcare provider can help you make informed decisions about your health and wellness. Virtual care visits via Everlywell allow you to talk to a healthcare provider in the comfort of your home.