Difference Between Inflammation and Infection
By Claire Miles - August 7, 2022

Inflammations and infections are generally known to occur together or cause the same visible symptoms, but there are clear differences between them. Keep reading to find out how to detect and differentiate inflammations and infections.

Table Summary

InflammationInfection
It is a natural physiological processIt is a disruption of natural physiological processes
Caused by white blood cellsCaused by pathogens 
It has four distinct symptoms: heat, pain, redness, and swellingSymptoms vary widely depending on the nature of the pathogen
It does not lead to infectionInfections may cause inflammation or even other types of infections.
Symptoms are noticeable during or immediately after trauma takes placeIt might lay dormant for long periods without symptoms
It is not typically treated as an emergencySome infections can be life-threatening

Definitions

Inflammation is a physical manifestation of the body’s efforts to expel harmful pathogens, other microbes, or even physical trauma. It is a natural response to body-system trauma and is considered a marker for good health unless poorly regulated. Inflammation can be acute – lasting for a short period, or chronic –stretching for a long duration, lasting several weeks and above. Symptoms of inflammation differ but are more commonly associated with pain, localized warmth, swelling, redness, or loss of function.

Infection involves the aftermath of the body’s invasion by pathogens. Pathogens that lead to infections are classified under three categories: viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Infections can also be either acute- where they develop suddenly and tend to leave in a short amount of time or chronic- where the acute infection develops slowly and is influenced by genes, lifestyle choices, and behaviors like diet, mobility, and genes.

Inflammation VS Infection

Inflammations affect tissues and are a normal reaction to physiological or mechanical trauma. Infections are, however, not a physiological process. Infections can show symptoms that may include inflammation, but inflammation does not cause Infections.