Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or irritation. It is a complex process that produces pain, redness, heat, swelling, and loss of function. Inflammation begins when damaged tissue releases chemicals called “inflammatory mediators.” These chemical messengers travel through the blood to nearby tissues and signal them to begin the healing process. When inflammation is prolonged or severe, it can cause further damage and pain.
How Does Inflammation Work?
Inflammation is a process that happens in your body when you get sick or injure yourself. It’s the immune system’s way of responding to foreign invaders, like bacteria and viruses, so that they don’t do serious damage to your body.
When something bad happens in your body, such as an injury or infection, your cells release chemicals called cytokines (say: sy-ko-teens) into the bloodstream. Those cytokines travel through the blood to the area of injury or infection and help tell other cells what to do. Once those other cells get the message from the cytokines, they start producing more cytokines and sending them out into the bloodstream. Those additional cytokines keep spreading until they reach every part of the body where there might be foreign invaders lurking—like strep throat bacteria hiding in tonsils or cold virus hiding in nasal passages.
In response to all these chemicals being released into their surroundings, different types of white blood cells rush into action: neutrophils (neutrophils), eosinophils (ee-o-sin-o-phyls), basophils (basosphylls), lymphocytes (limfohdees), monocytes (monohdees), and macrophages.