Although they can produce similar responses in the human body, there is a difference between infection and inflammation, as not all conditions can cause inflammation, and not all inflammation results from infections.
Inflammation is a sign of the immune system trying to fight off pathogens or irritants affecting your health. The white blood cells and other immune mediators are responsible for protecting you against any foreign body.
The level of inflammation is measured by biomarkers present in the circulation, and the common biomarker is the C-reactive protein (CRP). The CRP levels are higher in chronic inflammation as compared to acute inflammation.
The two types of inflammation are acute and chronic. Acute inflammation is caused by an illness that lasts for a short term period. The inflammation can disappear after a couple of hours or stay a few days. Signs of acute inflammation include:
- Pain in the inflamed area
- Redness occurs as a result of increased blood supply to the affected area
- Loss of function
- Feeling warm to the touch
Chronic inflammation, however, lasts for months to years. Chronic inflammation can occur following chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and cardiovascular disease. The symptoms of chronic inflammation differ depending on the condition.
Infection is caused by the presence of a disease-causing agent in the body. The agents multiply and produce toxins that attack the immune system causing infections. Responsible agents include bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi. Infections can arise due to:
- Direct skin contact with the contagious agents
- Through body fluid like saliva and blood
- Insect bites
There are 3 main types of infections: viral, bacterial, and fungal. The treatment and recovery process differs for each, so it is incredibly important to diagnose each quickly and correctly.
Viral infections are caused by viruses, which are tiny microorganisms. The virus uses the body as a host to complete its lifecycle and reproduce. The number of viruses multiplies and attacks the immune system, resulting in the symptoms of infection. Some of the viral infections include common colds, measles, polio, herpes simplex, HIV, rabies, and Ebola.
When detected in the body, viral infections can be treated with antiviral drugs or simply let run its course if possible.
These infections are caused by single-celled microorganisms called bacteria. Bacteria can get to the body by contact with contaminated food and drinks or the environment. There are good bacteria present in the body and don’t cause diseases, but there are also infection-causing bacteria.
Fungal infections are caused by fungi present in the soil, dump areas, or on our skin. Not all fungi cause infections. Examples of fungal infections include ringworm, vaginal yeast infections, thrush, athlete’s foot, and aspergillosis. Fungal infections are treated with antifungal drugs. Possible signs of infections include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, coughing, pain, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
While both inflammation and infection can have similar symptoms, they require different treatment plans to address the root cause of the issue. If you think you have chronic inflammation or infection, it’s important to be seen by a medical professional, such as the ones at WellCare Urgent Care. We’re your local source for non-emergency healthcare for anyone who needs it. Schedule an appointment today to start on the path toward relief by calling us or filling out an online contact form.