Nov 07 , 2022
Rethinking the Origins of Inflammatory Diseases
By: Shilpa Rivella
Published by The Wall Street Journal
The emergence of COVID-19 left doctors, scientists, and researchers with many unanswered questions regarding immune response and inflammation. While certain responses to COVID-19 were understandable, others were mysterious and unpredictable. The one common thread seemed to be a rush of inflammation as an immune response to the virus. The source of this inflammation, however, was not always as obvious.
As humans have progressed into modern times, the level of inflammation we experience has changed. Studies show that inflammation can now become persistent, with unknown triggers. This persistent inflammation can have devastating effects, causing painful and chronic symptoms and ultimately inflammatory diseases. Further, it is becoming more evident that hidden inflammation is at the root cause of many diseases including heart disease and some cancers. This hidden inflammation may be the root cause of strong immune responses in seemingly healthy individuals.
To combat hidden inflammation, we must understand its root cause. It is now generally understood that our lifestyle has a huge impact on our immune system and the persistence of hidden inflammation, and that impact starts at a very early age. Studies show that infants that are exposed to a greater number of microbes in their youth are at a decreased risk of inflammation in adulthood. When children are not exposed to these important microbes, their immune system can have an overactive response to harmless germs such as pollen and dust. Further, it is shown that the type of microbes matter, with more significance falling on microbes found in mud, water and vegetation, as opposed to bacteria and viruses.
Hidden inflammation may be the root cause of a person’s susceptibility to specific diseases, like COVID-19 or certain autoimmune disorders. The rise in hidden inflammation may be caused from a lack of exposure during childhood to certain bacteria found in our outside environment.