Written by Divinity Nutra, Updated on March 3, 2023

Acute Inflammation

Acute inflammation is a natural and important response to injury or infection. Although acute inflammation can be uncomfortable, it is usually a sign that the body is working to heal itself. In most cases, acute inflammation is a healthy and necessary process, but in some instances, it can become problematic and lead to further health issues.

In this article, we’ll explore what the acute inflammatory response is, what causes it, its symptoms, and available treatments.

What Is Acute Inflammation?

Acute inflammation is a sudden and short-term immune response to injury or infection in the body. The primary purpose of acute inflammation is to neutralize harmful stimuli, remove damaged cells, and initiate the healing process.

The immune system releases various chemicals, such as cytokines and histamines, that cause blood vessels to dilate and increase blood flow to the affected area. This increased blood flow brings white blood cells and other immune system cells to the site of injury or infection, where they work to remove harmful substances and stimulate the healing process.

Acute Inflammation vs Chronic Inflammation

What is the difference between acute and chronic inflammation? Acute inflammation and chronic inflammation are two different types of inflammation that have distinct characteristics and outcomes.

Acute inflammation is a short-term response to injury or infection that occurs quickly and is typically resolved within a few days to a few weeks. The signs and symptoms of acute inflammation, such as redness, heat, swelling, and pain, are usually apparent and serve as indicators that the body is working to heal itself.

On the other hand, chronic inflammation is a long-term and persistent type of inflammation that lasts for several months to years. Unlike acute inflammation, chronic inflammation is not a response to a specific injury or infection but rather occurs as a result of an ongoing internal problem, such as an autoimmune disease, persistent infection, or exposure to irritants.

Chronic inflammation can lead to the development of serious health problems, such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis, and is often difficult to treat.

In summary, the key difference between acute and chronic inflammation is the duration and cause of the inflammatory response.

Signs & Symptoms of Acute Inflammation

What are examples of acute inflammation? Acute inflammation is characterized by the four classic signs of inflammation: redness (Rubor), heat (Calor), swelling (Tumor), and pain (Dolor) in the affected area. To elaborate further, these signs and symptoms are best described as:

  • Redness (Rubor): The affected area may appear red and swollen as a result of increased blood flow to the area.
  • Heat (Calor): The affected area may feel warm to the touch as a result of increased blood flow and the immune response.
  • Swelling (Tumor): The affected area may become swollen as a result of fluid accumulation in the tissue.
  • Pain (Dolor): The affected area may be tender and painful to the touch as a result of pressure on nerve endings in the area.

In addition to these classic signs of inflammation, acute inflammation can also cause other symptoms, such as fatigue, fever, and loss of appetite, depending on the cause and location of the inflammation.

Not all cases of acute inflammation will be present with all of these signs and symptoms, and the severity of symptoms can vary widely.

What Causes Acute Inflammation?

What causes inflammation? Acute inflammation can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Physical Injury: Physical injuries, such as cuts, bruises, sprains, or broken bones, can trigger acute inflammation as the body responds to the injury and begins the healing process.
  • Infections: Bacterial, viral, and fungal infections can cause acute inflammation as the body responds to the invading microorganisms.
  • Allergic Reactions: Allergic reactions to substances such as pollen, food, or medications can cause acute inflammation as the immune system reacts to the allergen.
  • Foreign Objects: Foreign objects, such as splinters or insect bites, can cause acute inflammation as the body responds to the presence of the foreign object.
  • Chemical Irritants: Exposure to irritants, such as chemicals or pollutants, can cause acute inflammation in the affected area.
  • Immune System Disorders: Certain autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, can cause acute inflammation in response to the body’s attack on its tissues.

How Is Acute Inflammation Treated?

The treatment for acute inflammation depends on the underlying cause of the inflammation. However, there are some general approaches to treating acute inflammation in the body and learning how to reduce swelling, including:

  • Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can be used to relieve pain and reduce swelling. In some cases, prescription medications may be necessary, such as antibiotics to treat infections or corticosteroids to reduce inflammation.
  • Cold Compresses: Applying a cold compress to the affected area can help reduce pain and swelling.
  • Elevation: Elevating the affected area can help reduce swelling and improve blood flow.
  • Rest: Resting the affected area can help reduce pain and allow the body to focus on healing.
  • Physical Therapy: Physical therapy may be recommended to help improve the range of motion and reduce pain in cases of physical injury.

In some cases, a more invasive treatment, such as surgery, may be necessary to treat the underlying cause of the inflammation. There are also lifestyle changes you can make to limit bodily inflammation as a whole, such as avoiding foods that cause inflammation and replacing them with foods that reduce inflammation.

Supplements for Acute Inflammation

There are also several natural supplements for inflammation, as well as herbs and spices, that you can use in conjunction with the strategies above to reduce acute inflammation in the body and relieve pain naturally. Here are three effective ones to get you started.

Turmeric has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties due to the presence of a compound called curcumin. Curcumin has been found to inhibit the production of cytokines and enzymes that contribute to inflammation.

Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar can help reduce the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

Elderberry has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties, including its ability to reduce inflammation. Elderberry contains compounds that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, such as anthocyanins and flavonoids.

Acute Inflammation: Final Thoughts

Acute inflammation is a natural and important response to injury or infection. It is the body’s way of defending itself against harmful stimuli and repairing the damage. Although it can be uncomfortable, it is usually a sign that the body is working to heal itself.

Generally, acute inflammation is a healthy and necessary process, but in some instances, it can spiral out of control. By understanding what causes the acute inflammatory response, its symptoms, and available treatments, you can take steps to reduce your risk and help your body heal.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of acute inflammation that simple strategies are unable to resolve, it’s important to talk to your doctor to determine the best course of treatment for you.