A chronic inflammatory disease is a medical condition which is characterized by persistent inflammation. A number of diseases fall into this category, and a great deal of research has been conducted to learn more about such diseases and how they work. In many cases, a genetic component has been identified which can put people at risk of developing particular inflammatory diseases, and in some cases, multiple genes can be involved.
Patients develop a chronic inflammatory disease because the immune system has an inappropriate response to something it has been exposed to. In some cases, this means that the patient develops an autoimmune disease, in which the immune system starts to attack the body because it has become confused. In other instances, the patient experiences chronic inflammation in response to certain foods or environmental factors such as smoke. The inflammation can wax and wane, but it remains persistent and it often resists treatment.
Chronic inflammation can cause considerable damage to the tissues of the body, and it can lead to a variety of problems, depending on where it is located. Some researchers, for example, have noted that chronic inflammatory disease in the liver and digestive tract can cause changes in the brain which lead to fatigue and personality changes. These diseases can also interfere with the function of various organs, and in many cases, the inflammation can spread across the body.
Some examples of inflammatory diseases that become chronic include: celiac disease, vasculitis, lupus, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), irritable bowel disease, atherosclerosis, arthritis, and psoriasis. Some of these conditions have a clear genetic component which can be used to identify patients with congenital cases, and in other instances, certain genes may increase the risk of developing such conditions. In other cases, the onset is apparently random, or brought on by lifestyle choices made by the patient.
People with these conditions tend to have a great deal of suffering. Because the inflammation often cannot be fully controlled, the patient is constantly on medications, and he or she can experience pain, fatigue, digestive problems, and other symptoms caused by the inflammation and side effects from the drugs. Some people also find that their symptoms and struggles are dismissed by people such as employers and coworkers, who may not fully understand the processes and debilitation which can be involved in a chronic inflammatory disease.
Researchers are looking for new ways to prevent and treat such conditions, and many patients may be eligible for clinical trials in which various treatment approaches are being tested. Participating in such trials can benefit patients as individuals and science as a whole by contributing useful information to the field of knowledge on chronic inflammatory disease.