You can often spot an inflammatory condition by the suffix “-itis” — think arthritis, dermatitis, sinusitis, appendicitis, bronchitis, myocarditis, etc. Before 1800, only 20 such nouns existed. Today, there are hundreds, and inflammation has been found to be a culprit in many more.
“Anybody with a chronic condition is typically inflamed at some level,” says functional-medicine pioneer Mark Hyman, MD. The list includes autoimmunity, allergies, eczema, skin disorders, heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s, mood disorders, and osteoarthritis.
Because chronic inflammation taxes the immune response, it weakens immunity, leaving us more susceptible to infections.
It also increases the odds that our bodies will mount the type of overwhelming attack on infections that does more harm than good; this was exemplified by the “cytokine storm” that killed many people infected with COVID-19 early on.
“Hidden inflammation may shed light on why ostensibly healthy individuals can succumb to severe illness during epidemics and pandemics,” notes Shilpa Ravella, MD, assistant professor at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and author of A Silent Fire: The Story of Inflammation, Diet, and Disease.
This was excerpted from “How Chronic Inflammation Affects Your Health” which was published in the March 2023 issue of Experience Life.
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