The Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Inflammation You Need to Watch Out For

Are you dealing with physical or mental annoyances you’ve never experienced before? Sudden brain fog, stomach problems, joint pain, and fatigue could mean your body’s immune responses are trying to tell you something. Is your body fighting the effects of chronic inflammation? Here are a few symptoms that might signal there’s something more serious going on beneath the surface.

What does your inflammation mean?

man holding his knee

A swollen knee is a sign of inflammation. | iStock.com

Inflammation isn’t always a bad thing. It’s your body’s natural response to stress — for example, alerting you to a swollen knee as a warning it’s time to stop sprinting. However, there are good and bad types of stress — one much more harmful than the other. If inflammation goes on too long, it can have major consequences — including disease. Keep an eye out for the following symptoms to avoid inflammation-related damage to your body.

Persistent brain fog

woman holding her head at her desk

How often does your mind feel foggy? | Mihail Ulianikov/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Do you have trouble concentrating? Feel like you’re mentally “not there?”¬†Some research suggests persistent brain fog — the inability to focus and perform basic mental tasks normally — could share a link with inflammation in your brain. You could have an underlying condition in which inflammation happens to be a key early symptom, like celiac disease.

Headaches and increased thirst

woman drinking out of a water bottle

A little-known sign of inflammation is increased thirst. | iStock.com

You could have high blood sugar and not even know it. Headaches, increased thirst, frequent urination, and difficulty concentrating all signal your numbers might not stand where they should after you eat. Unfortunately, chronically high blood sugar can indirectly lead to inflammation — meaning you might have pre-diabetes, the precursor to incurable type 2 diabetes.

Bloating and constipation

man holding his hands on his stomach

Digestive issues may be more worrisome than you think. | iStock.com

An imbalance of bacteria in your gut can cause a host of health problems, including inflammation. Bloating and constipation are just a few of many possible signs your gut microbiome has created the ideal environment for painful and damaging inflammatory responses. If you’re having digestive issues, there could be a clearer reason why.

Unexplained exhaustion

Tired businesswoman

Unexplained fatigue is something to watch out for. | iStock.com/Poike

According to Science Daily, it’s unclear why certain chronic inflammatory conditions like irritable bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis cause fatigue. Not enough human studies have drawn reliable conclusions. However, unexplained fatigue is definitely a warning sign your body is fighting something that doesn’t belong.

You aren’t losing weight — but you should be

Teenage Girl Fastening Pink Trousers

If your pants aren’t getting easier to button that may be a sign. | iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

Your weight could be affecting your health, whether you know it or not. Some people truly do need to lose weight for health reasons, though. Being overweight is a major risk factor for inflammation. Studies have shown those who are overweight or obese are more likely to experience chronic inflammation, whether due to insulin resistance, digestive issues, or other health consequences. Excessive fat tissue also increases your risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and more chronic, incurable illnesses.

Joint swelling, pain, or stiffness

woman grabbing her shoulder in pain

Notice any pain around your joints? | iStock.com

Swelling is a common symptom of inflamed areas in the body, and it can present for a variety of reasons. Swollen, painful, or stiff joints could be a sign you’re fighting inflammation, warns Healthline. Arthritis and gout, certain infections, and injuries can also activate an unwanted inflammatory response, so it’s important to see a doctor if any noticeable symptoms arise.