Classic Signs of Inflammation
People with Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF) have chronic inflammation of the lungs. The inflammation can be felt anywhere in the body though – from dizziness to difficulty swallowing to stiff joints and more. Even when inflammation gets out of control, there are many ways to measure and monitor inflammation in your body.
To start, it helps to learn the classic signs of inflammation. Doctors often characterize inflammation based off these 5 signs:
- Loss of function
People with chronic inflammation may experience any combination of these signs. Some people even notice flu-like symptoms such as a fever, fatigue, headaches, loss of appetite, and stiff or weak muscles. Others might not notice the signs of inflammation at all, simply because it’s impacting them gradually instead of all at once. Even so, it’s important to be aware of inflammation. Chronic inflammation can lead to a variety of diseases, disorders, and/or discomforts.
Tests to Measure for Inflammation
Chronic inflammation is very common, and health professionals are trained to help you understand it better. If you are concerned about any of the above signs of inflammation, reach out to your doctor. Once you do, they might order tests to measure inflammation in your body.
One test to measure for inflammation is called a high-sensitivity CRP (or c-reactive protein) test. Any time you experience inflammation, your liver creates a protein called CRP and sends it throughout your bloodstream. So, in a CRP test, a blood sample is taken to determine whether there are high levels of CRP in your blood. If the CRP levels are high, that can signal inflammation in the body and suggest a need for further testing.
Additional tests for inflammation include ones that assess the thickness or viscosity of the plasma in your blood. There are also tests for something called serum protein electrophoresis (SPE), erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), and more.
You can also reach out to a nutritionist to learn about the connection between inflammation and the food choices you make. There are many tools, such as the Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII), which can help you understand the likelihood of certain foods to cause or reduce inflammation. For Special Education Week, PF NOW! has published its own list of foods to eat and foods to avoid as well. The link is available here.
Ways to Monitor Inflammation Yourself
No matter what the professionals say, you are the expert of your own body! With that in mind, there are many ways to monitor inflammation on your own, from the comfort of home. As you learn to recognize inflammation, you can set goals and ultimately regain control over it. Here are some suggestions:
- Keep a food log. A food log is a written record of anything you eat or drink throughout the day. At the end of the day, take a look at the kinds of foods you ate. Were they more likely to cause inflammation, or reduce it? This infographic shows the difference between inflammatory and anti-inflammatory foods:
Remember to stay hydrated too!
- Track your sleep patterns. Notice whether you are getting enough sleep. The more rest you can get, the less you might suffer from inflammation!
- Reflect on your stress levels. If you need help managing stress, try incorporating meditations and breathing exercises into your daily routine.
- Make sure you’re getting enough exercise. Physical inactivity can contribute to inflammation, so take time each day to get regular physical activity.
- Receive support from people who can relate. Join our online community forum, and attend our virtual support groups on Zoom to receive support from people who have or are impacted by PF.