Anti-Inflammatory Strategies–Achieving Homeostasis
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Asthma: An Inflammatory Syndrome

Posted on Wednesday, October, 28th, 2015 by Dr. Hellen in Allergies | Chronic Disease | Inflammation

Asthma is an inflammatory condition which affects the lungs in negative ways. It is not a single disease, but a group of symptoms that arise from the abnormal immune responses to environmental triggers.

Asthmatics suffer from limited air flow, difficulties in breathing, heightened sensitivity to particles or toxins in the air, wheezing, coughing, and tightness of the throat and chest.

Asthma can be triggered by allergens, air-borne pollutants, upper respiratory infections (like a cold or the flu), exercise, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as acetaminophen.

The cells that line the airways, the epithelium, are the first point of contact when particles are inhaled. Until recently, scientists were unaware that these cells contribute to inflammatory responses within the lungs.

Scientists are busily trying to clarify the role of over 50 different cytokines that are involved in regulating the amount of lung inflammation that asthmatics experience. When challenged with antigens, lung cells produce great numbers of inflammatory cytokines, immune messages. These immune factors regulate the activity of genes that result in inflammation and the body’s efforts to control inflammation.  Inflammatory cytokines increase the levels of inflammation to help the body remove the antigens, while other cytokines dampen excessive immune responses, trying to bring inflammatory responses back to balance.

Structural changes in the airways result from the actions of different classes of inflammatory cells and their immune proteins and biologically active molecules. Lung cells can also release molecules that cause the muscles and blood vessels in the airways to become stiff and narrow.

The lungs become overly sensitive to environmental stimuli triggering the production of excessive levels of mucus, perhaps to help dilute and wash antigens out. These fluids can clog the airways of the lungs making it even more difficult to breathe. The hypersensitivity of the lungs results in a vicious cycle of over-active immune reactions, inflammation, and more mucus production.

10.28.15 Ashma PNG grpahic

 

As always the key to healthy immune support is balance. The body needs to produce enough inflammation to help us heal and protect us from external and internal challenges, but the inflammatory response must be well balanced and controlled.

Dr. Hellen’s major passion in life is helping people get more energy, become more productive, and enjoy life at its fullest. She may be contacted by using this form, drhellen@drhellengreenblatt.info, or at: 302.265.3870 (ET, USA).

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People with serious lung problems who are unable to breathe for themselves, for example, patients in intensive care units recovering from injuries, or who have viral, or bacterial infections, like pneumonia, may be placed on mechanical ventilation.

Although these patients may require a ventilator, too often these devices make their lung conditions worse. Patients with lung injuries that require mechanical ventilation lead to more deaths annually than do breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.

For years, scientists have known that when lungs are exposed to rhythmic pressure of ventilation, the production of cytokines, immune messengers, are stimulated.  This excessive production of cytokines results in “boosted”  levels of inflammation in the lungs that may damage the lungs, even after ventilation has been stopped. Excessive inflammation can lead to the destruction of formerly healthy organ systems.

It is as if the immune system sees “pressure” as a “foreign agent” an event against which the body much be protected.  The pressure appears to trigger an immune inflammatory response in the body.

This phenomenon can be seen even at the cellular level.  Exposing cells in a test tube to as few as four hours of rhythmic pressures results in increased levels of inflammatory cytokines that recruit more inflammatory immune cells into the area. Twelve (12) hours of ventilation-type treatment results in a 5-7 times increase in the levels of inflammatory cytokines.

During winter months, respiratory infections are the most frequent cause of intensive care unit hospitalizations for infants.  For some infections, Infants that are on mechanical ventilators have  significantly higher levels of lung inflammation than infants not being ventilated. However, even in healthy children, mechanical ventilation triggers an inflammatory response within hours.

 For over a decade I have tried to educate the public about the need for the body to maintain immune inflammatory homeostasis, immune balance; having enough inflammation to do the job, but not so much that it causes damage.

 Inflammation is necessary for our survival to protect us from infections, and it is the first step the body takes when it heals itself, for example, after an injury. 

But the amount of inflammation produced by the body must be tightly limited, because too much inflammation is like an uncontrollable forest fire.

One of my greatest frustrations has been trying to help medical practitioners understand that inappropriate inflammation is the foundation of most of their patients’ problems, but too often, “they just couldn’t get it”.  Now, every journal, every magazine touts the fact that “inflammation is the root cause of disease”.  They admit that it has a role in cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal, emotional problems  etc. and that inflammatory responses play a major role in cancer.

It has been my experience that when individuals have major health issues, “following the levels of inflammation” will help explain what is happening to the patient.  In cases of mechanical ventilation, other procedures  and conditions, what would be the harm in taking steps to limit uncontrolled levels of inflammation, and help return the body to immune homeostasis?

 

Dr. Greenblatt looks forward to assisting you in returning to immune balance:  She can be contacted at: http://drhellengreenblatt.info/contact-dr-hellen or 1.302-265.3870 [USA, ET]. Thank you.

 

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Healthcare-associated infections (HAI), nosocomial infections, are caused by a wide variety of bacteria, fungi, and viruses.  One bacterium that commonly causes illness is Clostridium difficile, or C. difficile.  Hospitalized children and elderly people are at special risk of acquiring these bacteria, infections that result in severe diarrhea.  Individuals infected with C. difficile are more likely to be admitted to short and long-term care facilities, have longer hospital stays, are more likely to require colon surgery, and are at higher risk of death.

Nosocomial infections are on the increase, probably due to the heightened use of antibiotics used in hospitalized patients.  The antibiotics kill off beneficial bacteria that might offer protection against getting infections such as C. difficile.

Intriguingly, in a recent study, patients admitted to the hospital who were on statins, medications used to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, had a 45% lower risk of getting Clostridium difficile infections compared to individuals that were not on these sorts of medications.

Other studies suggest that statins affect immune responses by down-regulating, inhibiting inflammation.  For example, statins prevent and reverse chronic and relapsing disease in an animal model similar to multiple sclerosis, reduce lung inflammation in animals that exposed to airborne particles, and have been shown to lower the risk of death of individuals suffering from 13 different types of cancers.

In atherosclerosis, primarily caused by an inflammatory response directed against the wall inside blood vessels, statin therapy reduces blood vessel inflammation and significantly reduces markers of inflammation such as hsCRP, high sensitivity C – reactive protein.

Health warnings have been issued by the FDA for statins.  These risks include:  memory loss and confusion, liver damage, heightened diabetes, and for certain statins, muscle weakness.  I am certainly NOT advocating that people use statins to limit inflammation.  Instead, I want the reader to focus on the fact that the effects of statins appear to be due, in the long run, to their ability to modulate acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) inflammation.

 As I try to emphasize in all my posts, the key to good health is to achieve immune homeostasis, the appropriate balance of inflammatory and anti-inflammatory responses

 Immune homeostasis is most easily achieved through a) consistent physical activity, b) controlling fat deposits around the abdominal area, c) increasing consumption of vegetables and fruits, d) moderate exposure to sunlight (or vitamin D3 supplementation when the sun is not sufficient), e) ingestion of omega-3 fatty acids from a fish source, and f) and daily consumption of hyperimmune egg.

Feel free to contact Dr. Hellen at DrHellen@DrHellenGreenblatt.info with questions or to consult with her. A message may also be left at: 1.302-265.3870 or click on: http://drhellengreenblatt.info/contact-dr-hellen/.

 

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