Skip to content

Sure Signs You Have Inflammation, Say Physicians

This is what inflammation looks like.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Inflammation is the body's natural response against injury and infection, and part of a healthy, robust immune system—but sometimes inflammatory cells are sent out when they are not needed, leading to chronic inflammation. "Inflammation occurs naturally in your body. But when it goes wrong or goes on too long, it can trigger disease processes," says Paul DiCorleto, Ph.D. Here are five signs you have inflammation, according to doctors. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Joint Pain

Woman with head and hip pain sitting on a couch at home.

Chronic joint pain could be a sign of inflammation, doctors say. "In a common type of inflammatory arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis, a variety of immune cells can be found in the lining and fluid of the joint," says rheumatologist Dr. Robert Shmerling. "These cells attract other immune cells and together lead to thickening of the joint lining, new blood vessel formation, and—ultimately—joint damage."


Cognitive Decline

Mature woman sitting in bed at home.

Inflammation is closely linked to cognitive decline, and can lead to dementia. "Higher levels of inflammation were most strongly associated with declines in memory," says Keenan A. Walker, a postdoctoral fellow in neurology at Johns Hopkins' School of Medicine. "It implicated inflammation in memory disorders, namely Alzheimer's disease. It's still possible that inflammation may simply be a result of underlying dementia rather than a cause. But by looking at inflammation during middle adulthood, we can more confidently infer that inflammation comes first. It's unlikely that you have neurodegenerative changes at age 40 or 50." 

RELATED: Sure Signs You Have an UTI, Say Physicians


Eating Inflammatory Foods

woman eating bowl with salmon and healthy superfoods

"What you eat can affect inflammation," says registered dietitian Erin Coates, RDN, LD. "If you want to battle inflammation, start by taking a look in your kitchen. And when you make your grocery list, add less inflammatory foods and more anti-inflammatory foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, seeds and fatty fish." Coates recommends avoiding inflammatory foods such as added sugars, trans fats, red and processed meats, omega-6s, and refined carbs.

RELATED: Inflammation Calming Secrets That Really Work



woman laying on bed with a phone in her hand.

If you find yourself tired all the time, it could be a sign of chronic inflammation. "Many older adults think it's normal to take naps in the afternoon as they age, but it really isn't; it's a warning sign that something's going on underneath," says Bindiya Gandhi, M.D.

RELATED: What an Unhealthy Gut Feels Like, According to Experts


Tummy Troubles

open the bathroom door, go to toilet

Gastrointestinal issues are a sign of inflammation, experts warn. "Many older adults are on over-the-counter medications such as proton pump inhibitors, which can cause a lot of disruption to the bacteria in the gut," says Dr. Gandhi. "As a result, inflammatory compounds have an easier time entering the bloodstream, which can cause digestive problems like gas, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation, as well as ongoing inflammation." And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan
Filed Under