Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome
Those suffering from a hard-to-diagnosis health problem may be diagnosed with Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. Mold is often the unrecognized source of this chronic condition, so properly treating mold in the environment may be the key to better health.
Microbes like bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi can infect us and release toxins. When a person is sick from these toxins, it is called biotoxicity since the toxins come from living organisms. Biotoxicity is different from environmental toxicities such as heavy metals or chemicals.
We can be exposed to biotoxins just by breathing inside of a water-damaged building. These buildings can harbor mold, bacterial toxins, volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter that permeate throughout the air and get inhaled.
These biotoxins are very small, so they can move in and out of our cells and throughout various body systems.
Biotoxins can build up in our bodies because they’re not easy to excrete or destroy. However, the body will do its best and concentrate these toxins in the liver. Once they’re in the liver, they bind to bile so we can routinely eliminate them properly.
The body will tend to be resourceful and try to recycle our bile. This recycling system is called the enterohepatic circulation. So once the bile reaches the first part of the small intestine, the toxin – still attached to bile – gets recirculated back to the liver. It never leaves the intestinal system, so it accumulates in the body.
Now, normally this recirculation would not be a problem. In most people, the immune system can recognize these toxins and mount an immune response to destroy them. But roughly 25% of the population has a genetic susceptibility, and their immune system cannot recognize the biotoxins and remove them. That’s a lot of people!
When the toxins can’t be recognized, destroyed and removed, they continue circulating in the body, causing inflammation and complex symptoms. The group of symptoms and lab findings related to biotoxin exposure is known as Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS). This syndrome was first discovered and named by Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker, a pioneer in the field of biotoxin illness.
How Do You Know if You Have Mold Toxicity or CIRS?
The first step is to just CONSIDER that it could be a possibility. If you’re not aware that this condition even exists, there’s no way you’ll seek answers and treatment for it.
Mold is a “sensitizer,” meaning it overexcites the nervous and immune systems, and it makes any other existing health issues worse. CIRS affects multiple body systems and creates a bizarre set of symptoms.
The symptoms of mold illness can vary widely, but here are some of the most common. Please note that the symptoms with a (*) are quite characteristic of mold-related illness:
- Extreme seasonal allergy symptoms or sinus congestion
- Frequent urination
- Unquenchable thirst
- Hives, rashes, itching
- Mood swings
- Night sweats
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Diarrhea, abdominal pain
- Impotence and low sex drive
- Static charges/shocks on the skin
- Dry skin
- Body temperature dysregulation (feeling too hot or too cold)
- Appetite swings
- Sudden or rapid weight gain, no matter what you eat or how much you exercise (because biotoxicity causes leptin and insulin resistance)
- Unusual vibratory sensations, especially in the spine
- Unusual pains (“icepick” or “lightning bolt” sensations)
- Cognition problems like poor focus, difficulty learning, or struggling to find words
- Chronic fatigue
- Sensitivity to bright light
- Watery eyes
In addition to the symptoms listed above, many people with mold illness are misdiagnosed with:
- Syndrome of chronic fatigue
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Testing Your Home and Yourself for Mold
A healthcare practitioner will make the diagnosis based on a person’s symptoms, exposure history and lab tests. There are several basic lab tests that help to make the diagnosis of CIRS. Here is a partial list:
- MMP-9 (elevated in CIRS)
- VEGF (low in CIRS)
- MSH (low in CIRS)
- C4a (elevated in CIRS)
- VIP (may be low in CIRS)
- TGF-B-1 (elevated)