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What’s inflammation? You might have come across the term and be wondering what it means and how it affects your health. 

The word inflammation comes from the Latin word inflamma, which means fire. Fire is beneficial if it is kept in check, and harmful if you let it run wild. The same rule applies to inflammation. It could save your life or lead to death if let run wild.

In today’s article, I want to present to you the basics of inflammation and Insha Allah in the upcoming weeks, we shall dig deeper to understand some of its benefits and dangers. 

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is the immune system’s response to an irritant. The irritant can be: 

  • an infection caused by bacteria or a virus
  • an injury such as scrapes or a thorn prick on your finger
  • a toxin that travels through polluted air or chemical 

When one of these irritants damages your cells, your immune system is alerted and begins to repair the damage. Most of our injuries are automatically healed by our body’s inflammation process. 

Hence, this is why I like to call inflammation, or more accurately “acute inflammation” as a blessing from Allah subuhanawuta’la. Not only has he created such a complex system that is our body but also put in place self-healing mechanisms which allows it to repair itself. The whole healing process of acute inflammation can last from a few hours to a few days.

When is inflammation dangerous? 

When the inflammation becomes uncontrolled or chronic, it can pose as a curse for our health. In fact, chronic inflammation is one of the main reasons for many modern diseases. 

According to the World Health Organisation, chronic degenerative conditions are one of the leading causes of death around the globe. Scientists believe that chronic inflammation is behind most of these degenerative conditions.

Many emerging studies suggest that chronic inflammation could be the cause of these disorders:

  • Type 2 diabetes, 
  • Cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, 
  • Obesity, 
  • Cancer, 
  • Asthma, and 
  • Ageing

What causes chronic inflammation?

When the same acute inflammation persists longer, it becomes chronic inflammation. So instead of just fighting off damaged cells, chronic inflammation ends up attacking nearby healthy cells too. 

There are many causes of chronic inflammation, and here are a few important ones:

  • An untreated injury or infection
  • Long-term exposure to polluted air or industrial chemicals
  • Long-term sleep disturbances as well as sleep deprivation
  • An autoimmune disorder (immune system fights against the body’s own healthy cells by mistake, causing harmful inflammations)

Apart from these causes, many attributing factors cause chronic inflammation too, such as chronic stress, obesity, smoking, alcohol etc.

Acute inflammation is a natural part of the healing process. The problem begins when it becomes chronic. So bringing your chronic inflammation under control is crucial for reducing your risk of long-term damage. 

In the upcoming weeks, we’ll discuss some important ways to keep the inflammation in check. 

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