So What exactly is inflammation?

Inflammation is a process that the body undergoes to deal with tissue damage (by any mechanism) and to eradicate infection or cancer. There are other situations where inflammation occurs to cause tissue damage, rather than the other way around, so understanding inflammation is the key to understanding many disease processes.

The process of inflammation leads to four changes in the affected tissue.

Local or systemic?

One thing a doctor will take great pains to work out, is whether inflammation is just affecting an isolated part of the body, or if it is involving the circulating immune system (blood, bone marrow, liver, spleen and lymph nodes). Blood tests are often very helpful in this regards and will enable a more refined diagnosis to be made.

Causes of inflammation:

Any tissue damage will lead to a certain amount of inflammation, but often the cause of tissue damage dictates what type of inflammation is seen (it does vary in severity and form).


Inflammation may be a consequence, but also a cause of a disease (often it is both). What happens next is dependent on where and how aggressive the immune response is. The conditions that arise out of chronic inflammation, are often persistent stimulation derived (i.e. autoimmune), or failure to switch off (i.e. IBD).