In my last instalment I introduced you to inflammation, what it is, why we have it, and why it's engulfing our lives in epidemic proportions in recent times.
Inflammation is something that affects everyone – in this day and age, and with the elements that exist in our modern environment, we simply cannot escape it.
So, what are the symptoms of inflammation? How do we know if this is the root of some of our problems? And how do we overcome it and not let it dictate how we feel and the illnesses or pains we succumb to.
If you'd like to know what the 'flames' might look like in your body, or how to begin extinguishing them, then stand by!
(Remember that we're talking here about chronic inflammation, not acute inflammation that shows up in response to acute injury or infection).
We can think of chronic inflammation like a fire that needs to be extinguished in the body. It has a domino effect within the body, manifesting in a multitude of ways, and it can trigger a cascade of symptoms that will each negatively impact our health.
And it's only once we wise up to what's causing the symptoms, and begin to manage or eliminate the direct causes, that we'll be able to get improvement on our symptomology, disease, dysfunction, and health.
We can't get well in the same environment and under the same conditions in which we became unwell. There's our biggest and most powerful clue to beginning the healing process.
So what things expose our bodies to the chronic inflammation conundrum. Here's just a few:
Too little or too much sleep
It seems that when you get less than seven hours or more than nine hours on a regular basis that your body reacts by thinking its sick. This throws the body's inflammatory processes out as it responds as if we've got an illness or infection. Being tired all the time, even after good sleep, is another sign of inflammation.
Pain that seems to be there, well, just because
Pain, stiffness, or tension in your joints or muscles that appears to have an unidentified cause is a big indicator of inflammation. It's your body's neon sign flashing it's lights for attention. Tissue or body parts that hurt are a sign that something isn't right. It's time to find out why.
Blocked sinus pathways or tickly nostrils
It's easy to think this could be seasonal allergies, but it could also be a result of inflammatory processes at work in your body. Inflammation works in different ways for everyone, but some of the more common ones are stuffy noses, watery eyes, itchy eyes, and sneezing.
Digestion issues that are prolonged
Here's something that may surprise you – we shouldn't feel digestion. Gas, bloating, abdominal discomforts, belching, gurgling, constipation and diarrhoea are not normal, and especially not if they're experienced regularly. We should be able to eat food and out amazing bodies then digest it for us, without needing to send triggers that something isn't right.
Heartburn and reflux
We often consider heartburn-type symptoms to be a result of too much stomach acid (HCL). In actual fact it's the opposite of this – we often experience reflux when our stomach acid is too low and it can't therefore digest our food properly. When our gut is inflamed it is unable to make sufficient acid to digest our food.
Essentially our body on the outside tells a story of what's going on in the inside. Our external body doesn't lie – it's where the results of the internal workings are displayed. Eczema, breakouts, dry skin and other dermal issues are the body's way of telling us that there is something happening inside that requires our attention.
Brain fog and forgetfulness
Many symptoms of inflammation are physical, but they can be exhibited mentally too. This can range from a simple moment of fogginess whilst talking to a friend, to a complete blank as to what you had been about to say or do, and even forgetting words. And at it's most extreme it can even slip into things like forgetting to pick the kids up after school!
Recurrent headaches and debilitating migraines
If you seem to be experiencing regular headaches or succumb to the debilitating scenario of a migraine, then your body may be alerting you to inflammatory actions at work in the body.
A spare tyre around the middle
Fat cells in our abdomen produce inflammatory chemicals and the more of these we have the more inflammation we produce. It's a bit of a vicious cycle, but one we can slowly undo.
There is nowhere in the body that inflammation can't get. We are all created uniquely, have experienced a life load that is unique to us, and our daily experience of life is also unique to us.
Many of these symptoms shouldn't just be accepted, and especially not ignored. And we absolutely shouldn't accept them as part of our identity. All symptoms are messengers sent to alert us that something isn't right.
And with all things that seem to have a regular pattern of occurrence, or that seem to be gaining intensity, please do see a health professional. Start listening to your body's whispers, so you don't have to hear it's screams.
■ Corinne Austin is a health coach and movement motivator (firstname.lastname@example.org ).