Inflammation Signs and Fixes
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9 Signs You Might Have Chronic Inflammation — and What to Do About It

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Inflammation Signs and Fixes
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Burning on the Inside

Inflammation is an immune response of the body trying to heal itself. But if the inflammation stems from a problem that is not treated, chronic inflammation can set in, which is an underlying cause of diseases ranging from arthritis to cancer. Understanding the hidden causes of chronic inflammation, as well as some lifestyle hacks to treat and prevent it, can go a long way toward helping you stay healthy. Here are signs of inflammation to watch for, common causes, and natural anti-inflammatories to include in your routine.

Note: The following is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.

Related: 15 Weird Ways Your Body Is Telling You to Go to the Doctor

Symptom: Pain
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Symptom: Swelling
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Symptom: Swelling

Just like a localized infection from say, a paper cut, swelling is a common aspect of inflammation, swollen joints or even organs like the stomach or intestines can be a sign of something being off in the body, causing inflammation. Be aware of changes in your body that can't be easily explained.

Symptom: Fatigue
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Symptom: Fatigue

When the body has to work hard to treat itself, it has less energy for day-to-day activities. Chronic fatigue often goes hand-in-hand with chronic inflammation, which should be a wake up call to figure out the root cause.

Related: 23 Natural Ways to Boost Energy and Fight Fatigue

Symptom: Insomnia
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Symptom: Frequent Infections
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Symptom: Frequent Infections

With chronic inflammation, the body is essentially always on 'red alert' mode, using its energy reserves to fight whatever is causing the inflammation — leaving little energy for the body to fight off other infections. An inability to combat infections or getting infections very frequently is a sign of chronic inflammation.

Symptom: Rashes
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Symptom: Rashes

Rashes are a common sign of a compromised immune system and chronic inflammation. Rashes may present as low-level irritations anywhere on the body or be localized to one area.

Symptom: Mouth Sores
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Symptom: Mouth Sores

Canker sores, or other painful or painless mouth sores, are like a check engine light for your body. These are clear signs of inflammation that likely extend beyond the visible sores localized in the mouth.

Symptom: Weight Issues
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Symptom: Weak Immune System
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Symptom: Weak Immune System

Since inflammation is an immune response, the immune system can be vulnerable and even compromised from spending energy on an ongoing basis. This weakened immune system makes the body more susceptible to all kinds of maladies.

Inflammatory: Sugar
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Inflammatory: Sugar

Sugar may be delicious, but it is not healthy. Added sugars, which can be found in everything from fruit juices to savory condiments and hot dogs, is linked to many different health issues, including inflammation. Avoid added sugars as much as possible, saving sweet treats for special occasions and opting for natural sugars from whole fruits instead.

Inflammatory: Processed Sweeteners
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Inflammatory: Processed Sweeteners

Processed sweeteners can be just as bad, and sometimes worse, than regular sugar. It's important to recognize the different names of sweeteners, as everything from high fructose corn syrup to agave nectar are sweeteners that ultimately act similarly to sugar in the body.

Inflammatory: Deli Meats
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Inflammatory: Deli Meats

Most deli meats are carcinogenic, thanks to added chemicals and fillers. They can potenitally contribute to chronic inflammation and have even been linked to cancer. Significantly limiting deli meats goes a long way toward living a healthy lifestyle.

Inflammatory: Refined Grains
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Inflammatory: Refined Grains

Numerous studies have suggested that refined grains can cause inflammation all over the body, particularly the gut. Gluten intolerance has become a common (if trendy) complaint, and many people report feeling better overall when eliminating refined grains from their diet.

Inflammatory: Alcohol
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Inflammatory: Alcohol

Alcohol has a direct impact on the gut microbiome, which is why is it is often linked with chronic inflammation. There are also some studies that suggest the effects of alcohol on the liver may also play a part in the overall inflammation causing effect of alcohol.

Inflammatory: Artificial Trans Fats
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Inflammatory: Artificial Trans Fats

Often listed on food packaging as "partially hydrogenated" oils, artificial trans fats (unlike the trans fats found in dairy and meat) have been linked to increased inflammation and disease risk. Often added to processed foods to extend shelf, they can not only lower "good" HDL cholesterol levels, but increase the risk factor for heart disease. Foods high in trans fat include French fries, some brands of microwave popcorn, certain margarines, packaged cakes and cookies, and all processed foods.

Inflammatory: Intestinal Parasites
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Inflammatory: Intestinal Parasites

A surprisingly large number of people are infected with intestinal parasites, and many don't even know it. Symptoms that are not acute can be missed altogether or attributed to something else. Since this is an invasion, the body's natural response is inflammation until the infection is gone.

Inflammatory: Smoking
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Inflammatory: Smoking

Smoking causes all kinds of health issues, not least of which is contributing to chronic inflammation. A constant barrage on the lungs and respiratory system present as an attack to the body, causing it to respond with inflammation. Fortunately, it is possible to stop smoking at any age and any stage of life.

Inflammatory: Stress
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Inflammatory: Stress

Stress is not just an annoyance — it actually makes us sick. Triggering a flight-or-fight chemical response, being stressed out is like being sick all the time, and the body responds with inflammation. If this is stressing you out, try meditation to break the vicious cycle to find peace of mind.

Anti-Inflammatory: Turmeric
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Anti-Inflammatory: Turmeric

Most people are familiar with the bright-yellow, powdered form of turmeric that is used as a mild cooking spice. Known for staining hands and clothes, the powder is made by pulverizing the root, which can also be used fresh for a more intense flavor. Some studies suggest that turmeric contains anti-inflammatory properties, and could potentially have a positive effect on a variety of diseases.

Anti-Inflammatory: Ginger
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Anti-Inflammatory: Ginger

Ginger root has a spicy and aromatic flavor, and is often used in sweet applications for depth of flavor. Numerous studies suggest that ginger may also have anti-inflammatory properties when taken internally. Ginger can be enjoyed raw, juiced, dried, and cooked.

Anti-Inflammatory: Wormwood
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Anti-Inflammatory: Wormwood

Wormwood is a bitter, leafy green, known for giving absinthe its intense flavor and supposed mind-altering effects. Beloved by natural medicine practitioners for centuries, it is a potent herb that reduces inflammation as well as aiding in overall health from cleansing the gut to treating gingivitis. Some research indicates that wormwood extracts could potentially have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant effects.

Anti-Inflammatory: Chilies
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Anti-Inflammatory: Chilies

Capsaicin, the component of chilies that makes them spicy, is a known anti-inflammatory. The heat from chilies also makes then a powerful pain reliever, though anyone who is sensitive to heat might find that one pain replaces the other.

Anti-Inflammatory: Salt Soak/Rinse
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Anti-Inflammatory: Salt Soak/Rinse

Epsom salt baths aren't just for relaxing in a tub — they can also potentially help reduce inflammation. While the benefits of a soak with bath salts to reduce internal inflammation are mostly anecdotal and require further study, taking a bath — with or without Epsom salts — can be a stress reducer for most people. 

Anti-Inflammatory: Apple Cider Vinegar
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Anti-Inflammatory: Apple Cider Vinegar

This homeopathic cure-all is good for so many maladies precisely for its anti-inflammatory properties. Good for chronic inflammation in particular, including a small amount of ACV into your daily routine is an easy way to start the ball rolling on optimizing health.

Anti-Inflammatory: Honey
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Anti-Inflammatory: Honey

Honey has been used by ancient civilizations like the Maya for centuries for it's antimicrobial and antiinflammatory properties, and contemporary science backs up the practice. Used topically in skin products, it can reduce the inflammation of rashes and breakouts, as well as be used internally.

Anti-Inflammatory: Leafy Greens
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Anti-Inflammatory: Leafy Greens

Eating your greens is a good idea for so many reasons, from getting enough fiber to helping establish a healthy gut, which will ultimately help reduce inflammation in the body. Find the greens that you like the best, and try to get some in your diet on a daily basis.

Anti-Inflammatory: Berries
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Anti-Inflammatory: Berries

Berries are one of the healthiest foods to include in your diet, packed as they are with antioxidants, which have natural anti-inflammatory properties. Including berries in your diet, whether fresh or frozen, is a delicious way to reverse and prevent inflammation.