5 Surprising Causes of Inflammation

Understanding the causes of your inflammation is essential to preventing it and avoiding other problems it may cause.
5 Surprising Causes of Inflammation
Maricela Jiménez López

Reviewed and approved by the doctor Maricela Jiménez López.

Written by Okairy Zuñiga

Last update: 09 October, 2022

Does a mosquito or other insect bite cause swelling, redness, or itching? No big deal. It’ll only last a few hours or days. This is a natural response to an irritant or injury. In this case, it’s a response to an infection. Some of these fall into the category of the causes of inflammation.

On the other hand, there are types of inflammation that last longer. Low grade inflammations are considered to be “of prolonged duration” because they can linger for weeks or even months.

This is also known as chronic inflammation. Here you’ll find the active symptoms of inflammation.

When inflammation doesn’t go down, the danger is greater. Diseases that can cause chronic inflammation include diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, or even Alzheimer’s.

Here are some common causes of inflammation and ways that you can reverse its effects:

1. You’re overweight

If you’re carrying around some extra pounds, it can trigger an inflammatory response in your fat cells.

As we age, fatty tissues affect some of the cells in the body. This occurs when inflammation begins.

Obesity in young people can cause fat cells to signal the alarm. What happens is that their immune systems will start to defend themselves, but without having anything active to target they simply damage the body itself.

2. Your boss is too hard on you and your life is chaotic

A woman who is stressed at work.
Another cause of inflammation is stress. This can be either acute or chronic.
  • Acute stress occurs when your worries or fears are very significant and related to a real situation that destabilizes your life.
  • Chronic stress occurs when you are in an unhappy marriage or your work is causing you a lot of anxiety, for example.

Also Read: How to Manage Stress Properly

Both of these can cause inflammation. Cortisol plays an important role in controlling your body’s inflammatory response. The problem is that chronic stress can prolong the effects of this hormone.

According to a study by Rockefeller University, this can cause an inability to control inflammation.

The study also claims that chronic stress can trigger an increase in production of white blood cells. This results in a higher risk of diseases that are related to inflammation.

3. You have intestinal bacteria

Not all bacteria can cause you harm. Some varieties can suppress inflammation while others trigger it, depending on the strain. But 70% of your immune system cells reside in your intestines.

This means that intestinal bacteria can affect your immune system in a myriad of ways, making this one of the causes of inflammation.

Scientists who study this topic don’t fully understand the nature of the interaction. That’s why they are exploring environmental and dietary changes that can alter the situation.

There are studies that have identified certain microbes that live in the intestine and may be related to the development of rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease.

Inflammation caused by microbes in the intestine can also worsen or facilitate the emergence of other diseases, such as HIV for example.

4. You’re drinking too much

Alcohol can be one of the causes of inflammation.
From a physiological point of view, alcohol is broken down in your body. This reaction produces toxic byproducts that cause inflammation. You already know that your liver is the principle organ involved in the process of breaking down and processing alcohol.

That means that when you drink too much, your liver is the first to experience inflammation. If you avoid alcoholic beverages you allow your liver to relax and cleanse itself.

In addition to drinking too much alcohol, you may also build more fat, causing you to develop cirrhosis or hepatitis.

5. Taking contraception may be one of the causes of inflammation

Taking contraceptive pills can be one of the causes of inflammation.
Prior to entering menopause, women tend to choose from a variety of contraceptive options. One of them includes birth control pills.

This can help them conceive at a later stage in life, but it could also trigger inflammation.

Women who take oral contraceptives seem to be at higher risk of experiencing inflammation than those who choose to give up the pill.

In 2014, the journal PLoS One published a preliminary study on this subject. They found that inflammation in women who are not taking the pill was minimal.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t care for your health or use a contraceptive method. If you want to prevent pregnancy at any stage in life, talk with your gynecologist to find out what the options are. They can tell you if you have any particular risk factors or should consider a change in contraception.

Don’t ignore the importance of the causes and consequences of inflammation

Chronic inflammation can last for weeks or even months, and may appear anywhere in your body.

If you’re overweight, you smoke, you drink alcohol, and you take contraceptive pills, you need to stay focused on what’s happening to your body.

Remember that to prevent this problem, it’s important to get exercise, maintain a healthy body weight, and follow a healthy diet.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Izaola, O., de Luis, D., Sajoux, I., Domingo, J. C., & Vidal, M. (2015). Inflamación y obesidad (Lipoinflamación). Nutricion Hospitalaria. https://doi.org/10.3305/nh.2015.31.6.8829
  • Villalba, E. (2014). Inflamación I. Revista de Actualización Clínica.
  • Blancas-Flores, G., Almanza-Pérez, J. C., López-Roa, R. I., Alarcón-Aguilar, F. J., García-Macedo, R., & Cruz, M. (2010). La obesidad como un proceso inflamatorio. Boletín médico del Hospital Infantil de México, 67(2), 88-97.
  • Estruch, R. (2002). Efectos del alcohol en la fisiología humana. Adicciones, 14(5).

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.