Chronic Inflammation: A Key Driver of Chronic Health Conditions

Chronic inflammation is a hallmark of chronic health conditions, whether it’s a neurodevelopmental disorder like autism or ADHD, an autoimmune disorder, a mood disorder, diabetes, allergies, asthma, gastrointestinal disorder, heart disease or other condition. Think of all of the chronic health conditions you know of that end in “-itis”, which means “inflammation of”.

Acute inflammation is seen in symptoms such as pain, itching, burning, redness or swelling. In the case of allergies, these would be seen with symptoms of anaphylaxis, which are IgE mediated. This is the body’s way of protecting against pathogens.

The problem is when inflammation becomes chronic. This type of immune dysregulation is typically mediated with IgA or IgG antibodies, meaning that the symptoms are different and can sometimes take two to three days to appear.

Symptoms of Chronic Inflammation

Chronic inflammation shows up in a variety of symptoms such as:

Causes of Chronic Inflammation

Anything that causes stress on an ongoing basis can cause chronic inflammation; common causes are:

Testing for Chronic Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is typically not tested for by most mainstream healthcare practitioners. Here are some more-common tests you can ask your practitioner to order for you; if your practitioner won’t, we recommend working with a functional or integrative practitioner that will.

  • CRP (C Reactive Protein)
  • HbA1C (Hemoglobin A1C)
  • Fasting insulin
  • Serum ferritin
  • Homocysteine

In addition, fasting glucose levels above 85, and especially those above 100 are more indicative of high inflammation, as glucose (sugar) is highly inflammatory. The HbA1C test mentioned above is an average of blood glucose over a three-month period. You have the ability to check these levels at home on a daily basis with a home glucose monitor that you can get at a local pharmacy or online. 

For more information on these lab markers and more, we recommend visiting this page from Dr. David Jockers on inflammatory lab markers and their optimal levels.

Lowering Chronic Inflammation

One of the best ways to lower inflammation is to implement an elimination diet to check for hidden food sensitivities and intolerances, which are a very common cause of chronic inflammation.

By removing common inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, corn, eggs and soy for a week and then reintroducing them one a time every few days while keeping a food diary that tracks any of the symptoms listed above, you’ll better be able to understand what’s driving chronic symptoms. Many people are able to keep symptoms at bay simply by avoiding these inflammatory foods.

For more ideas on lowering chronic inflammation, be sure to visit our page on how to reduce inflammation.

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