Silent inflammation: what is it anyway?
In various internet sources, you hear and read again and again about so-called silent inflammation. But what is that anyway? The aim of this article is to help examine and unravel the mysteries of this term.
The term silent inflammation comes logically from the English-speaking world. It describes a general inflammatory, the metabolic situation in which the body is. In other words: without the influence of an external pathogen, inflammatory reactions occur repeatedly. The type of inflammation is so subtle that the disease process or inflammation process is largely obscured.
Symptoms of silent inflammation
Typical symptoms of silent inflammation are therefore not a fever or the like, but subtle signs of incomplete regeneration. Here are some examples of symptoms:
– constant tiredness or low exhaustion threshold
– constantly recurring minimal injuries after sporting activity
– pain at a low level that occurs unmotivated here or there (often on the musculoskeletal system)
– unclear attributable symptoms of the digestive system
– “hormonal” malfunctions up to infertility
– Decline of gums (“parodontosis”)
– degenerative processes such as joint wear (“osteoarthritis”)
– in the long run, these degenerative processes will also have a negative impact on the risk of cancer or heart attack, ergo increase
How can silent inflammation be diagnosed?
The diagnosis of silent inflammation is based on anamnesis. If the patient has several of the above symptoms to complain about and other diseases are excluded, the suspicion is obvious. It can be confirmed via laboratory tests, for example, via the C-reactive protein. This is a general inflammation value that can be taken as part of blood diagnostics. If possible, the laboratory should determine this value with exact numbers, since values below five are considered to be the “standard value” and are given as carelessly by many laboratories. But it should be clear to you that this assertion is a bit undifferentiated if you allow the following questions:
– Is there really no difference between a value of 0.5 and 4.5? (both “standard values”)
– Is the difference between a value of 5.1 (“inflammatory condition”) and 4.9 (“normal value”) really that huge?
– do constant measured values of these proteins in the range of 4.0 – 4.9 really indicate no trouble?
The three questions above already show a possible interpretation. With recurring values between 3.5 and 4.9 in connection with the symptoms mentioned in the list, silent inflammation can be assumed. Values above 5, on the other hand, are usually no longer very subtle as a delimitation, but mainly cause localized inflammatory complaints (swelling, reddening, pain; with systemic inflammation possibly fever).
What are the causes of silent inflammation?
As is so often the case, the causes of silent inflammation are multifactorial. In general, there is often a lack of vital substances (vitamins, trace elements), particularly often a lack of vitamin D, B vitamins, zinc, selenium, iron and the coenzyme Q10. In addition, an acquired imbalance of omega-3 fatty acids (generally anti-inflammatory) to omega-6 fatty acids (generally anti-inflammatory) is a common problem.
In general, all luxury foods consumed in excess (sugar, tobacco, coffee, alcohol) and many medications promote silent inflammation, sometimes directly, sometimes through the loss of vital substances. Regular consumption of meat and especially dairy products is also a possible factor in silent inflammation. In the case of red meat, for example, this is attributed to the heated iron contained in the blood cells in the muscle meat, and in the case of dairy products to a certain sugar, D-galactose.
Another cause of silent inflammation is stress. Stress generally costs vital substances, and the adrenal gland can be overwhelmed with reduced cortisol production. This is probably one of the reasons for the fatigue mentioned because the cortisol level in healthy people is highest in the morning and is therefore seen as an important factor for the “arousal”, i.e. waking up in the morning.
How can silent inflammation be diagnosed and treated in practice?
The aforementioned multifactorial genesis already shows the major problem of this degenerative metabolic situation: individual measures can reduce silent inflammation, but often cannot prevent it. This requires a concerted approach.
If you suspect a silent inflammation, you should have your vital substance balance checked with the substances mentioned. In addition, of course, the stated value of the C-reactive protein. It is also useful to check the morning cortisol and the cortisol curve during the day (“stress adaptation index”), which is based on a self-extraction of saliva over the course of the day. Together with the hormone DHEA, a fairly valid statement can be made about the function of the adrenal glands.
If the suspicion is corroborated by the appropriate laboratory tests, therapy can be based on the results. Often there is supplementation with the missing vital substances. In addition, therapy for adrenal fatigue can be useful, especially if stressors on the biochemical (“luxury foods”) and psychological side are avoided. For this purpose, for example, herbal or other stimulus-regulating agents are used (e.g. from homoeopathic or anthroposophic medicine). Anti-inflammatory naturopathic agents are also used, e.g. turmeric, devil’s claw or incense.
In general, when the adrenal glands are involved, regular practice of relaxation procedures, mindfulness and stress reduction training can be very useful.
Regular exercise in the fresh air should take place, but any physical overload should be avoided.
The author of the text, HP and osteopath Alexander Mallok, runs a holistic practice in Hamburg Sasel. Thanks to the interdisciplinary orientation of the practice team, the practice can diagnose and treat complex functional disorders such as silent inflammation.