What Is Inflammation? Inflammation is one way the body reacts to infection, injury, or other medical conditions. What Are the Different Kinds of Inflammation? Inflammation (in-fluh-MAY-shin) can be acute or chronic: Acute inflammation lasts a few days and helps the body heal after an infection or injury. Chronic inflammation happens if the illness or infection doesn't go away or if the body gets injured over and over again (for example, from tobacco smoke). Chronic inflammation last months to years and can lead to other medical problems. What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Inflammation? Symptoms of inflammation include: redness swelling pain warmth trouble using the area For example, if a child skins his knee, inflammation causes the area to get red and swollen. It also causes pain in the knee, making it hard to use the knee normally. Chronic inflammation can lead to other symptoms, such as tiredness and fever. What Causes Inflammation? Different things cause inflammation, including: an infection or medical condition, for example: sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses) cystitis (inflammation of the bladder) bronchitis (inflammation in the lungs) vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels) dermatitis (inflammation of the skin) an injury such as bee sting, cut, or bruise an illness where the immune system mistakenly attacks itself (called an autoimmune illness), such as: diabetes rheumatoid arthritis psoriasis inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) damage from chemicals (such as tobacco smoke) or radiation How Does Inflammation Happen? The immune system's job is to fight germs and diseases. When an infection, injury, or other medical condition damages the body, the immune system brings healing cells to the area. These cells give off chemicals that make the blood vessels dilate (get bigger). This lets more blood get to the area, bringing more healing cells with it. The increased blood flow also causes redness and warmth. Some healing cells and fluid pass into the injured areas, leading to swelling there. The chemicals also trigger nerves to send pain messages to the brain. This pain lets someone know to protect that area of the body so it can heal. In vasculitis (vass-kyuh-LYE-tis), inflammation affects blood vessels. The walls of the blood vessels get damaged. This can make it hard for blood to get to the body's organs, such as the heart, lungs, intestines, and kidneys. How Can Parents Help? Inflammation is often part of the healing process. So it might not need treatment. If treatment is needed, your doctor may recommend: resting an injured area raising the area above the level of the heart to help with swelling wrapping the area with a compression bandage to help with swelling putting ice on the area to help with pain and swelling (put a towel between the ice and the skin) medicine to help with pain, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen medicine to ease inflammation, such as ibuprofen or naproxen medicine to treat an illness or infection seeing a medical specialist for more treatment When Should I Call the Doctor? Call the doctor if your child: is not getting better after following the instructions for treatment has a new or higher fever has worsening redness, swelling, or pain has pus coming from a wound seems to be getting sicker Back to Articles Related Articles Immune System The immune system, composed of special cells, proteins, tissues, and organs that protect against germs and microorganisms, is the body's defense against disease. Read More Immune System The immune system is made up of special cells, proteins, tissues, and organs that defend people against germs and microorganisms. Read More Your Immune System The immune system keeps you healthy. How does it work? Find out in this article for kids. Read More Arthritis Kids can get a kind of arthritis that causes joint pain. Find out more in this article for kids. Read More Asthma Asthma is a lung condition that makes it hard to breathe. Learn all about asthma here. Read More Asthma Asthma makes it hard to breathe. But with treatment, the condition can be managed so that kids can still do the things they love. Learn all about asthma. Read More Blood Test: C-Reactive Protein (CRP) A C-reactive protein (CRP) blood test is used to identify inflammation or infection in the body. Read More Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) causes inflammation throughout the body. Doctors are trying to find out how these symptoms are related to coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. Read More Bronchitis Bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes. When a person has bronchitis, it may be harder for air to pass in and out of the lungs. Read More Bruises This article is all about bruises, including why they happen, how to make them go away faster, and why they turn all those funny colors. Read More Inflammatory Bowel Disease It's normal to get a stomachache once in a while, but some kids have something more serious called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Find out more about it. Read More Inflammatory Bowel Disease Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) refers to two chronic diseases that cause intestinal inflammation: ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Although they have features in common, there are some important differences. Read More Inflammatory Bowel Disease Inflammatory bowel disease is an ongoing illness caused by an inflammation of the intestines. There are two kinds of IBD: Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Read More Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis In juvenile idiopathic arthritis (also called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis)), a person can develop swollen, warm, and painful joints. Learn more. Read More Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) Learn about juvenile idiopathic arthritis, a specific kind of arthritis that usually occurs in kids and teens younger than 17. Read More Kawasaki Disease Kawasaki disease is an illness that causes inflammation in blood vessels throughout the body. When symptoms are noticed early and treated, kids begin to feel better within a few days. Read More Knee Injuries Healthy knees are needed for many activities and sports and getting hurt can mean some time sitting on the sidelines. Read More Knee Injuries Knee injuries are common among young athletes. Learn about causes, treatments, and prevention. Read More Sinusitis If you've been waking up with headaches, feeling stuffy or congested, and experiencing swelling around your eyes, you may have sinusitis - an infection of the sinus air spaces found in the bones around the nose. Read More Wound Healing and Care How well a wound heals depends on where it is on the body and what caused it. Good home care is an important part of healing. Read More Wound Healing and Care How well a wound heals depends on where it is on the body and what caused it – as well as how well someone cares for the wound at home. Find out what to do in this article for teens. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.