One in four Americans (adults and children) have a genetic susceptibility towards Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. It’s vital to understand the symptoms of CIRS.
Diagnosing this condition can even cause problems for professionals. The symptoms of CIRS are often misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia, ADHD, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and the list goes on.
What is CIRS?
CIRS stands for Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. It is also called Mold Biotoxin Illness. This is a multisystem, multi-symptom condition that occurs when mold biotoxins (like mycotoxins) attach to immune cells and don’t let go.
The immune cells keep sending signals to produce cytokines — proteins produced by your immune system. When your immune system keeps producing cytokines, it grows weakened from being overworked.
On top of that, all the excess immune response leads to your own immune system attacking benign tissues, causing inflammation.
There are three common ways you can run into CIRS:
- Water-damaged building (home or office)
- Tick bite-related diseases, such as Lyme disease
- Exposure to dinoflagellates (waterborne toxin producers) like Ciguatera or Pfiesteria
Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker spearheaded the discovery of and research into CIRS. Dr. Shoemaker was a family physician in Maryland when he linked an illness to a toxin produced by Pfiesteria.
Symptoms of CIRS
Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome is a multisystem, multi-symptom inflammatory illness. The symptoms of CIRS are systematically separated into 13 unique clusters.
Since there are some symptoms of chronic mold exposure, such as weight gain, that do not apply specifically to CIRS, in this article, I will only discuss the symptoms specific to CIRS.
Typically, if you exhibit eight of these symptoms (six if we’re talking about a child), you should get tested for CIRS.
1. Abdominal Pain, Diarrhea, Numbness
A common inflammatory symptom of CIRS is abdominal pain. Though this is a symptom of many conditions, if it is coupled with other symptoms of CIRS, you may want to be tested for CIRS.
Abdominal pain can also include diarrhea, leaky gut, or numbness.
2. Disorientation, Tearing of the eyes, Metallic Taste
The symptom of disorientation can be grouped with a metallic taste in your mouth and constant watery eyes.
3. Congested Sinuses, Shortness of Breath
CIRS has to do with breathing in mold. So it stands to reason that your nasal area would be affected. In fact, the research confirms this — the nose and sinuses are the primary suspects for the production of mycotoxins.
Congested sinuses and shortness of breath are common symptoms of CIRS.
4. Impaired Memory, Decreased Word Finding
CIRS and other mold exposures can impair your memory and make it difficult for you to find the right word in a normal conversation.
In a 2014 study, researchers used a software program, called NeuroQuant, to link mold illness from water-damaged buildings with brain abnormalities, such as difficulty with recent memory.
5. Body Aches, Weakness, Headache, Light Sensitivity, Decreased Assimilation of New Knowledge
If your body aches all the time, it can be a sign you may have Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome.
Weakness, headaches, light sensitivity — all of these are closely related symptoms of CIRS.
6. Skin Sensitivity, Tingling
Another of the more common symptoms, skin sensitivity can indicate Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. This includes rash and pins and needles tingling.
Skin sensitivity was the method by which researchers found that people who are present during hurricanes are more susceptible to mold allergies.
7. “Ice-Pick Pain”, Red Eyes, Blurred Vision, Sweats, Mood Swings
One of the more wide-ranging cluster of symptoms.
8. Joint Pain, Morning Stiffness, Cramps
If you are experiencing joint pain, it may be a symptom of CIRS — joint pain relief may be around the corner.
Morning stiffness is also a problem for those living with CIRS, clustered with muscle cramps.
CIRS can bring about a fatigue that is deep and persistent. Fatigue is reported as a leading cause of low quality of life.
If you suffer from chronic fatigue coupled with several other symptoms on this list, ask your doctor if you might have CIRS.
10. Vertigo, Static Shocks
Vertigo and static shocks are clustered together as related effects of the havoc that mold illness can wreak on your immune system. Both are symptoms of CIRS.
11. Difficulty Concentrating
Inhaling mold neurotoxins causes your immune system to overwork itself and contributes to inflammation all throughout your body, including your brain. This leads to CIRS patients having difficulty concentrating.
Difficulty concentrating is one symptom that leads to a misdiagnosis like ADD or ADHD.
12. Excessive Thirst, Cough, Confusion
Mold exposure can cause extreme thirst. Another symptom related to, but not dependent on, thirst is a recurring cough and confusion.
13. Difficulty Regulating Body Temperature, Increased Urinary Frequency, Appetite Swings
If you have trouble regulating body temperature, you may be dealing with CIRS.
The other symptom in this cluster is frequent urination, one of the symptoms shared between CIRS and fibromyalgia.
Testing and Treatment of CIRS
With so many misdiagnoses, it’s important to identify the symptoms, test for CIRS, then begin treatment of CIRS.
Testing for CIRS
Health care professionals may administer urine or blood tests for CIRS biomarkers.
There is a protein, VEGF, that is not produced as efficiently in subjects dealing with mold infections. So, doctors may test for VEGF deficiency to determine if you are experiencing CIRS.
Mold illness will also reduce levels of the anti-inflammatory hormone called melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH). You can be tested for MSH levels as well.
The above two tests are two of several CIRS biomarkers that can be tested.
A Visual Contrast Sensitivity Test may also be administered. This VCS Test measures your ability to see details at low contrast levels. It may be used as a nonspecific test of neurological function.
Once someone’s been diagnosed with CIRS, it’s important to rule in/out the environment for mold. An ERMI test is a great start to test your home and/or office for multiple different toxic molds and this can be done on your own. ERMI stands for Environmental Relative Moldiness Index. Though some companies have developed home test kits, the U.S. EPA originally designed this test only for labs.
Treatment of CIRS
The treatment of CIRS from a conventional standpoint includes prescription medications. An integrative approach emphasizes a change in diet and utilizing binders and antioxidants to remove unwanted toxins.
An important early step in CIRS treatment is to remove MARCoNS and mold from deep within the nose if present. MARCoNS stands for Multiple Antibiotic Resistant Coagulase Negative Staphylococci.
Another of the first recommended steps is to introduce natural binders such as bentonite clay or activated charcoal. These are both consumable and effective tools to soak up toxins that the body is having difficulty eliminating. Prescription binders such as Cholestyramine and Welchol may also be utilized.
One of the final steps in CIRS treatment may include VIP nasal spray. VIP stands for vasoactive intestinal peptide, which decreases levels of biotoxins like MMP-9 and TGF-beta1. Physicians report a 90 percent success rate with VIP nasal sprays, as well as no reported adverse side effects.
In many circumstances, functional medicine encourages patients to go on a gluten-free diet for a few months. In others, patients may need to adhere to a low amylose diet.
The No-Amylose Diet can yield great results in CIRS patients. The No-Amylose Diet eliminates:
- Processed foods
- Foods grown underground, such as potatoes, carrots, and peanuts
- CIRS (Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome) is a mold biotoxin illness when the biotoxins are not swiftly removed by your immune system, usually due to a genetic disposition common in a quarter of Americans. (The gene is named HLA-DR.)
- CIRS is too often misdiagnosed as something else.
- The symptoms of CIRS are mainly inflammation-related
- Treatment of CIRS involves supplements, medication and lifestyle changes.
Contact Jellison Integrative MD
If you suspect you have CIRS or are looking for a physician knowledgeable in Mold Illness and CIRS in the Kansas City area, call us at (913) 568-0608 or complete our booking form online
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