Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde – The Characterizations of Inflammation in Modern Medicine

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Inflammation can be both good and bad. What matters is that we recognize when it is a signal of an acute problem.

Inflammation is considered the bad guy in the world of preventive medicine…the condition that causes damage to joints, heart attacks and arrhythmias, aging, and tissue destruction.  These issues are at the heart of the diseases that cause us to suffer as we age, and learning what causes it and what prevents inflammation is essential to our quest for healthy aging…

But when is inflammation dangerous and when does it work in our favor?  To understand the answer to that question it is vital to understand the role of “good inflammation”.

The GOOD Inflammation:

Inflammation’s role in the body is to  attack infection and to heal us. It is the physiologic response to injury and infection. Inflammation signals the immune system to come to the rescue and attack infection and then heal the tissue that was damaged.

Acute inflammation from an injury or infection involves:





-Loss of function

These 5 signs are how doctors diagnose inflammation. 

When the body is acting normally, Acute inflammation is a self -limited process—it is short term and takes weeks to resolve.

Examples of inflammation you might recognize:

  • Acute bronchitis—inflammation of the airways of the lungs
  • An infected toenail
  • A Sore throat related to the flu
  • Skin cuts, scratches and burns
  • Inflammation after any surgery
  • After physical trauma like a twisted ankle

In these cases, inflammation is short lived, and helps the body heal.

The Bad Inflammation: When is Inflammation Damaging?

When inflammation is long term it becomes damaging to your whole body.  It sends the message that something needs to heal and the inflammatory cells and chemicals the body produces are circulating throughout the body for prolonged periods of time.  The antibodies can get redirected to healthy tissue and the result can be an autoimmune disease that rarely is cured, and can only be suppressed with immune suppression, leaving the body at risk for infection and cancer.

Inflammation over time will break down tissue, so continuing to live with an inflamed joint is the dumbest thing someone can do because it causes accelerated damage to the joint and the inflammatory chemicals cause plaque to build up in your arteries and damage is done to the entire body.  If you have a red, hot , painful area you should get it treated and avoid chronic inflammation.

Chronic Inflammation has different symptoms from acute inflammation:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Mouth Sores
  • Rashes
  • Abdominal pain
  • Chest Pain

These symptoms can last from months to years.

This week we have made the case that inflammation is both good and bad. What matters is that we recognize when it is a signal of an acute problem that needs to be resolved and when it is reflective of a chronic issue that may have long term consequences. If you have chronic pain, then the doctor will know and be concerned about what is causing this inflammation in your body and what kind of ongoing damage you are experiencing as a result. Their approach to solving the long-term inflammation issues will be important to the way you are able to age and live independently and with flexibility as you age.

Health cast was written and presented by Dr. Kathy Maupin, M.D., Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Expert This and Author, with Brett Newcomb, MA., LPC., Family Counselor, Presenter and Author. www.BioBalanceHealth.com

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