Well today we would look quite briefly at a particular health phenomenon that we all are very familiar with and that is inflammation. Yes, we are all familiar with inflammation, though we may not know that it is what it is. We may also not know the causes and the mechanisms underlying an inflamed part of our body.
In reality, inflammation is a response, and in fact, a good response at that. the body responds with inflammation when it is in danger either by an injury to the tissues or by a foreign agent which has found its way into the tissues of the body. This foreign agent could be a bacterium, or a virus, or a parasite, or even a fungi, which would cause damage to normal functioning of the body. Naturally, the way the body is designed is in such a way that it tries as much as possible to ward off and prevent most of the surrounding microorganisms from penetrating and causing havoc to our tissues and systems. This we see in the protective tissue covering of the Skin, the hairs in our nose, the wax in our ears, the mucus in our respiratory tracts etc. This innate property of the body to keep itself from injury and foreign invasion is what constitutes an Innate Immunity.
But sometimes, these microorganisms can get into the internal environment anyways, probably through an injury, especially one which we sustain from contaminated objects, snake bites, or in fact, any injury that disrupts the normal barrier of the body would trigger off the soldiers inside waiting to seize them, it is this army of soldier cells in our body and the war that they wage against these harmful environmental factors that constitute the inflammation. So basically, the inflammation serves to warn us or notify us of an invading pathogen, and then secondly to surround and ward off those pathogens in order to fight and destroy them, basically by alerting the soldier cells, the leukocytes mostly, and bringing them to the area of the infection.
SIGNS OF INFLAMMATION:
There are basically four things we notice when a part of our body gets inflamed. These are:
So if you notice a particular swelling in area of your body, that is painful, has a red coloration and seems hotter than the surrounding tissue, it is an inflammation. Now you may want to know what exactly happens inside that would explain the normality of these signs.
SWELLING- When there is an injury to the blood vessels in the body or when there are pathogens in the surrounding tissue, certain chemical mediators, from the body itself or from the pathogen are released and the result of this is that there is a widening of the pores between the cells of the vessel wall, these cells are called endothelial cells. These widening of the pores or contraction of these cells will pave way for increased filtration of fluid from the blood into the surrounding tissues, thereby causing an oedema or swelling in that area.
HEAT- The flow of blood to that are would therefore increase the temperature of the surrounding tissue a little above its previous level and this increase in blood flow to that area is also what necessitate the REDNESS you would find.
PAIN- The pain is caused by certain inflammatory mediators released from the soldier cells, like Histamine. This serves to alert you of something going on in that area.
These are the basic things that happen in an inflamed part of your body. We would discuss more about this mechanism and we would also learn how sometimes it may not be so nice when it overstays its welcome.
Chibuzor F. Ogamba