Wed, 6 Mar, 2019Tiana Gullotta

7 signs you have low-grade inflammation – and what you need to do about it

7 signs you have low-grade inflammation – and what you need to do about it

Inflammation is usually picked up on after serious forms of infection or injury. Although low-grade inflammation can be just as dangerous.

Identifying small signs of inflammation can help prevent long-term serious effects of this health issue.

Author of The Inflammation Solution, Dr William Sears explains the body’s use of inflammation:

“The term inflammation comes from the root words meaning ‘on fire’ […] the root cause of inflammation is that your immune system is out of balance and confused.”

Inflammation can be a good thing when your body fights infection, injury or disease, although if the signals get crossed you could experience chronic, low-grade inflammation.

Health and Wellness expert for Maple Holistics, Caleb Backe, stated, “While you may not have severe inflammation, living in a state where your body is always a little bit inflamed can still have adverse consequences on your long-term health."

This highlights that even the small signs of inflammation such as fatigue and vague pain are important to note. According to experts, these are the seven things you should keep an eye out for and pay attention to.

1. Swelling

Dr Allen Conrad, doctor of chiropractic and certified strength and conditioning specialist, said,"Low levels of inflammation are dangerous because they are easy to miss. When something is extremely sore or swollen, people are more aware of the symptoms and usually go to the doctor to get it evaluated." Dr Conrad advises to mention even subtle swelling to your doctor.

2. Fatigue

Inflammation can be apparent through feeling unnecessary fatigue. If you have no reason to feel tired then something might be wrong.

"The effects of low-grade inflammation can mean that you have reduced cellular-energy availability," Backe says. "If you find that you’re constantly fatigued and you’ve ruled out an iron deficiency, then you might be suffering from mild inflammation."

If you experience chronic fatigue it’s really important to bring this up with your doctor.

3. Aches and pains

An often-overlooked sign of low-grade inflammation includes general aches and pains.

"If you feel like you have more than your fair share of aches, then you might be suffering from mild inflammation," Backe says. "When you haven’t put your body under stress and it still hurts, then it’s a sign that there’s something more going on."

If you are experiencing intense pain that isn’t related to physical strain, then visit your doctor.

4. Low mood

A low mood and depression can be symptoms of many health concerns and inflammation should also be considered. Depression symptoms should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional as it is serious.

"Another symptom of low-grade inflammation could be depression," registered dietician Jeanette Kimszal. "Inflammation can affect the way the brain functions and has been thought to be a reason for someone to experience depressive episodes.”

5. Feeling “foggy”

Brain fog is a genuine medical condition that occurs in people with chronic health conditions. Brain fog can be caused by inflammation as well.

"Low-grade inflammation can also induce neuroinflammation," pharmacist Lindsey Elmore tells Bustle. "This can lead to fever, fatigue, anhedonia (loss of interest in activities and inability to feel pleasure), depression and cognitive impairment. These are collectively known as the 'sickness behavior’."

Cognitive issues can be a reason to visit the doctor as inflammation can be to blame.

6. Tender joints

Inflammation, even low-grade, can cause damage to the tissues of the body, which has long-term effects. So, feelings or raw or tender joints are a sign to look out for and report to your doctor.

"[Low-grade inflammation is] dangerous because the tissues wear and tear," Dr Sears says. "For instance, the joints … will get tender."

7. Stomach problems

Inflammation can impact your digestive system as much as your brain, mood and joints, so it’s an important thing to look out for.

"Emerging evidence suggests that low-grade inflammation alters gut microbiota, and this can lead to full-blown inflammatory conditions such as Celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis," Dr Elmore says. "You may experience constipation, diarrhea, stomach upset, bloat or foul-smelling stool. This is because abnormal gut microbiota has been shown to induce human antigens and trigger aberrant immune responses."

If you’re experiencing any or all of these symptoms, see your doctor to help manage your symptoms and provide relief.