Inflammation

6 Surprising Causes Of Inflammation—And What You Can Do About It

SARAH KLEIN

inflammation causes
The last time you were bitten by a mosquito or stubbed your toe, you likely noticed some redness and swelling, plus maybe a little heat and itchiness. Those are all classic signs of inflammation, a part of your body’s natural response to infections and injuries. Thankfully, acute inflammation like this usually only lasts a few hours or a couple days.But lower-grade inflammation can be lurking in your body—without any of the telltale symptoms of that itchy bite or throbbing toe—for months or even years. “This is the inflammatory response gone awry,” says Joel Linden, PhD, a professor in the division of inflammation biology at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology in California. It’s what’s called chronic inflammation, and when the inflammatory response does go awry, your risk increases for a troubling number of today’s most common illnesses, from heart disease and diabetes to arthritis and Alzheimer’s.

Which is why doctors and patients alike want to know where chronic inflammation comes from. Of course, ongoing infections or injuries are causes, and we now know that certain inflammatory foods are no help, either. Plus, diseases that are both caused by and cause more inflammation, like inflammatory arthritis, trap patients in an unending cycle.

But there are some lesser-known contributors to chronic inflammation, too—and you can do something about them. Below, 6 surprising causes, and how to reverse the effects.

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