Inflammation: characteristics and symptoms

Characteristic of an inflammation

Typical of an inflammatory process are the 5 signs: redness (lat. Rubor), swelling (lat. Tumor), heat (lat. Calor), burning pain (lat. Dolor) as well as disturbed functions (Functio laesa). General, non-specific signs of inflammation such. Fever can also occur.

Redness and heat

In the inflammatory area, various reactions take place. By chemical signals messengers such. As histamine released, which lead to an expansion of the blood vessels and thus to redness. The intensified blood flow to the diseased site also makes them appear warmer. At the same time the pores of the capillaries widen and blood plasma and white blood cells (leukocytes) can escape.

The main task of the leukocytes is the defense against pathogens. Based on the white blood cell count, the doctor can determine relatively easily whether anywhere in the body an inflammation smolders: He takes some blood and counts the leukocytes. If their number is high, an inflammatory focus has formed somewhere in the body. In the differential blood picture (white blood cells are divided into subspecies, each of which performs certain tasks), the percentage of certain types of white blood cells is determined to more accurately track down a disease.

Swelling and pain

Together with the tissue fluid, the white blood cells produce a swelling. It presses on the finest nerve endings, causing pain. In some inflammations, such as activated osteoarthritis, the connective tissue (fibrin) swells and proliferates when osteoarthritis has become chronic.

Swelling and pain together limit the function, such as the mobility of an inflamed joint. If the inflammation clears quickly, the typical symptoms of inflammation soon return to normal.


Everyone knows that fever is a sign of the body's defense reaction and thus something very good. If the body temperature rises, this signals that the body is activating the body's own defense mechanisms. As a result of fever, the body can help with inflammation. Already by the increase of one degree - from 37 to 38 degrees Celsius - the propagation of the pathogens can be inhibited. Fever is thus an important mechanism of the body in the fight against pathogens, poisons etc.

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