Inflammation is the body response to any disturbance in the homeostasis or an infection. It may not be the presence of infection all the time but any other physical factor that triggers an immune response can cause inflammation.
How an inflammation occurs?
- The process of inflammation starts with an insult to the body tissues.
- The immune system becomes active and the immune cells; lymphocytes, macrophages, and monocytes release chemicals called inflammatory mediators.
- Inflammatory mediators include,
- Vasoactive amines: Histamine and serotonin
- Peptides: Bradikynins
- Eicosanoids: Leukotrienes, thromboxanes, and prostaglandins.
- These inflammatory mediators decrease the anabolic activity and increase the catabolic activity, which means that the process of repair and regeneration of the muscles is decreased or inhibited, whereas, the process of degeneration and destruction of muscles is promoted.
- The blood vessels in the area also increase their permeability and start leaking fluid into the area causing swellings.
Cardinal signs of inflammation:
An inflamed area is presented with the following signs,
- Rubor: It means there is redness in the area of inflammation due to vasodilation.
- Calor: It means the presence of warmth, the inflamed area feels hot on touch.
- Tumor: Because of fluid infiltration from the blood vessels the area is swelled up.
- Dolor: It means pain in the region of inflammation.
- Function loss: Refers to the loss of function of that body segment.
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Causes of inflammation:
The causes of the inflammation can be divided into categories based on what mechanism of injury is responsible.
- Allergic reactions: People with allergies have a hypersensitive immune system to substances that are not even harmful. For example in patients with asthma, the hypersensitivity is due to pollen, dust, or normal perfumes smells that cause inflammation of the respiratory tract making breathing difficult.
- Nutritional causes: People having an imbalanced diet can easily develop inflammation in their organs. Foods that contain extra amounts of sugar, sodium, processed food, or trans fats are responsible for the inflammation of certain organs and glands. Such type of inflammation can lead to serious systemic diseases.
- Autoimmune response: People having autoimmune disorders have signs of inflammation because just like allergic reactions, in autoimmune disease the immunity cells of your body attacks normally growing tissue of your body making them inflamed.
Health conditions with inflammations:
Inflammation can occur anywhere in the body, it can affect your bones, joints, nerves, heart, blood vessels, and lungs as well. Some diseases that are characterized by inflammation are as follows.
- Arthritis: When inflammation occurs in joints it is called arthritis, it may be osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. The joint capsule and synovial fluid get inflamed, making the joint stiff, painful, swollen, red, and hot.
- Cardiovascular diseases: Inflammation can damage the heart and blood vessels, and increases the chances of heart attacks. Diseases like atherosclerosis and obesity cause inflammation and make blood flow compromised.
- Gastric diseases: The gastrointestinal tract may get inflamed showing symptoms like diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, etc. A common GIT problem is Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) when the intestines are inflamed.
- Nerves are also affected: Nerves are affected due to autoimmune conditions, like multiple sclerosis that gives, numbness, weakness, dizziness, tremors, vision problem, or incontinence.