Inflammation in The Body: Acute Inflammation vs Chronic Inflammation


Inflammation in the body can be categorized into 2 types, acute inflammation or chronic inflammation. As they can affect our body differently, it is important to understand both of them, so you will know what to do. Here is the detailed information.


Inflammation in the body is a reaction of living tissue to all forms of injury and a part of body’s natural defence system against injury.

  • It protects body to get rid of the causes of injury (microbes, toxins, drugs, chemicals, hypoxia etc) and outcomes of such injury like necrotic cells and tissue
  • It may be harmful; e.g. over reactive inflammatory response to allergen can cause anaphylactic shock and even death.

Types: acute or chronic inflammation


It is a sudden or immediate onset of complex biological response to injury, irritation, surgery or destruction of tissues. This process usually happens within 2 hours and results in walling off both the injured tissue and the injurious agent. Pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function are the cardinal signs of this immediate response.

inflammation in the body

In acute, plasma and leucocytes move from blood to the injured tissues. A cascade of biochemical events then occur, which involves the local vascular, the immune systems, and many cells of the body.

Burns, chemical irritants, toxins, frostbite, blunt or penetrating injuries, ionizing radiations and trauma, cause acute Inflammation. The process is initiated by the cells already present in the tissues, such as macrophages, dendritic cells, Kupffer cells and histiocytes.

These cells are activated and release many inflammatory substances, which in turn are responsible for the signs of inflammation. Permeability of blood vessels is increased and plasma proteins and fluid leak into the tissues to produce swelling. One of the mediators, bradykinin causes increased sensitivity to the pain.

Is It Good or Bad for Your Body?

Acute inflammation is a necessary part of our body’s responses to injury or injurious agents. As mentioned above, it is a protective process that resists injurious agents or pathogens by walling off effect.

Through inflammation, body dilutes toxins, stimulates the production of antibodies, forms fibrin that traps microbes, delivers nutrients and oxygen, transports drugs and stimulates immune system.

On the other hand, inflammation in the body may occlude airways, produce inappropriate inflammatory response or destroy normal tissues.

In short, the acute inflammation is good for body when it occurs within natural responses.

However, inappropriate responses of inflammation harm the body. Acute inflammation in the body may end up being:

  • completely resolved or
  • fibrosis of the damaged tissues or
  • abscess formation or
  • chronic inflammation

Should You Treat It?

Here, the question arises, if acute inflammation is a protective and natural response, why to treat it. Most of the time, it needs no anti-inflammatory treatment. To reduce acute inflammation in the body and its resulting signs, injured tissues need to be managed naturally through RICE therapy, which are Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

In acute inflammation,

  • Rest prevents further injury,
  • Icing reduces swelling, pain by decreasing blood flow to the damaged area,
  • Compression reduces fluid accumulation, and
  • Elevation allows fluid to drain from damaged area towards the heart.


It is a type of inflammation in the body that results from injurious agent that persists for more than 4-6 weeks. It is characterized by accumulation of mononuclear cells (macrophages, lymphocyte, and plasma cells) and collagen production by fibroblasts.

How It Starts

  • It occurs right from the start without preceding acute inflammatory reaction.
  • It occurs as a sequel of acute inflammation when this early response cannot be resolved due to persistence or recurrence of injurious agent or insufficiency of inflammatory reaction to destroy injurious agent.


  • Continual infections by certain intracellular microorganisms, e.g. Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Treponema pallidum and some fungi
  • Prolonged exposure to chemical or mechanical irritation, e.g. silica particles inhaled for prolonged period cause silicosis in lungs
  • Autoimmune disease. In autoimmune diseases, immune reactions (antibody or T cells) are produced against individual’s own tissues.

How to Treat and Heal Chronic Inflammation?

Following are some basic principles to help treat chronic inflammation in the body and to prevent it as well. However, exact treatments may be disease specific.

1. At the heart of treating and preventing chronic inflammation are lifestyle changes. Eat a healthy, balanced diet including a lot of natural product, plants, vegetables, low fat diet, a diet with Essential Fatty Acids especially omega 3 and 6 with a balanced ratio of 1:1.

2. Omega 3 is anti-inflammatory and comes from the seafood source, nuts and omega 6 is pro-inflammatory and comes from trans fats, refined carbs, etc. So add seafood to your diet.

3. Regular exercise is a natural and very effective way to ward off inflammation and keep you in shape.

4. Quit smoking, since it has highly damaging effects on your entire cardiovascular system.

5. Maintain a healthy weight, watch your blood pressure, control your cholesterol levels, and in case of diabetes keep your glucose levels within limits.

6. Also, keep your stress levels at minimum and have healthy sleeping hours.

7. Aspirin may prove to be a wonder drug in controlling chronic inflammation, but it should always be prescribed by a professional.

8. Other natural herbs proved to be useful in this context are turmeric, ginger, boswellia, rosemary, bromelain, papain, cruciferous vegetables, berries, green tea and vitamin E, C, D supplements.

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1 Comment so far

  1. Grace Williams on December 5th, 2011

    I saw on the Dr. Oz website that a daily dose of asprin may be effective in reducing chronic inflammation of the digestive tract and brain. However, women were cautioned that some doctors believe women should not take asprin daily until after they stop menstruating. Like the author of this helpful article suggests, check with your doctor!

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