Inflammation is a normal response of the body that involves an increase of blood flow to a site of injury. The signs of inflammation are redness (rubor), heat (calor), swelling (tumor) and pain (dolor). One other classic sign is loss of function (function laesa).
Acute inflammation is a dramatic localized response to injury. It comes vascular changes increasing blood flow (hyperemia) to the area that cause the redness and warmth as observed along with swelling. There’s also a cellular component, in which large numbers of white blood cells move to the injury to stop infectious agents and clear debris. The cells that come form what is referred to as an exudates.
Chronic inflammation is when inflammation lasts beyond six weeks (subacute applies to inflammation beyond a week, but not lasting as long as six weeks). A chronic response can last months and years. It is essentially a “standoff” between an injury and the body’s defense. They resist each other, but neither is strong enough to beat the other down.
Nowak TJ, Hanfod AG. Pathophysiology: Concepts and applications for health care professionals, 3rd ed. 2004. New York, McGraw-Hill.