When the body is injured, it calls upon its defenses to protect it by a process called inflammation. When bacteria or viruses attack the body, it causes an infection. This process which contaminates the body can cause injury by harming its various tissues. If there was no connection between infection and inflammation, the body would not fight the foreign material attacking it. Since inflammation also jump-starts healing, if it did not occur, the infection could run rampant, causing more damage and destruction inside the body. This could lead to further injury or permanent damage to tissues.
Microorganisms, also referred to as pathogens, can attack and multiply inside the body, bringing about an infection. General symptoms such as all-over pain and fevers occur when an infection is widespread. If bacteria or a virus enters the body in a localized area such as a cut, inflammation of the cut and surrounding area can occur.
Set in motion by the body's immune system, inflammation is a response to maintain the body's health. Characterized by reddening and tenderness, the area infected also swells as a warning that there is something wrong. By creating more fluid in the area, inflammation sets the healing process in motion while providing protection from further harm. This is achieved by sending more white blood cells to the area. These cells, also known as leukocytes, are transported through the blood. Fighting off the invading infection is the primary job of white blood cells.
Infection and inflammation, the problem and its ensuing solution, can be acute or chronic in nature. When its beginning is quick and without warning, and the symptoms are sudden but do not last a long time, infection and inflammation are considered acute. A longstanding bout with either process is considered chronic. Prolonged presence of infection or inflammation increases the possibility of complications.
Some health conditions, such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, and Lyme disease may expose the body to infections by compromising its defenses. Termed autoimmune diseases, these illnesses can cause widespread infection and inflammation. This occurs because the immune system processes get mixed up and assault normal tissues instead of the pathogens.
Treatment of infection and inflammation includes managing both the pathogen and its resulting symptoms. Antibiotics, for example, are commonly used to deal with an infection process. Compression wrapping of the affected area helps minimize inflammation or the progression of swelling to prevent the excess fluid buildup from impeding blood flow. Using both treatments in combination helps maximize the body's chance for recovery.