• Dr. Lisa Hogan

Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome


Exposure in water-damaged buildings (WDB) to airborne bioaerosols including metabolic products of toxigenic fungi, bacteria and actinomycetes; and inflammagens, can lead to a persistent innate immune inflammatory illness. Harmful mold growth begins within several hours after water damage, and this creates exposure to biotoxins from mold and other organisms. This illness, termed a chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS-WDB or CIRS), is systemic with symptoms acquired from multiple organ systems.

Chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS) is a chronic, progressive, multi-system, multi-symptom syndrome characterized by exposure to biotoxins, HLA genetic predisposition, altered innate and adaptive immunity, peripheral hypoperfusion (low blood flow) at multiple sites and multiple hypothalamic/pituitary/end organ dysregulations. This inflammatory dysregulation can affect virtually any organ system of the body; and, if left untreated, can become debilitating. In many instances of CIRS, even when patients are removed from the offending environment and treated with a step-wise protocol, their condition does not improve to the pre-morbid state. Treatment of CIRS-WDB has progressed as a better understanding of the inflammatory pathophysiology has led to targeted, sequential therapies. The fundamental basis of uncontrolled innate immune responses is the humoral deficiency of the regulatory neuropeptides, melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH) or vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP); and is seen in over 98% of patients. Most of these patients show a marked improvement and reduction in symptoms after use of intranasal VIP as the final step in the sequential treatment protocol.

Could this condition be affecting you? Do you have a history of exposure to a water damaged building or a building with known mold growth? Other exposures that can lead to CIRS are ingestion of or exposure to dinoflagellates, insect bites and/or stings (including tick bites), and exposure to Lyme disease. CIRS is thought to be the actual condition that is labelled with other names including chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), fibromyalgia and chronic Lyme disease.

Chronic inflammatory response syndrome goes by many names. You may have heard it called “sick building syndrome” or “wet building syndrome”, mold sickness, CIRS, CIRS-WBD, or chronic biotoxin associated illness. Approximately 25% of the population has the genetics that cause them to be sensitive to biotoxins. There are genetic associations between CIRS and Ehlers Danlos syndrome, celiac disease, MS, gulf war syndrome and adverse reactions to the Gardisil vaccine.

In brief, symptoms of CIRS can include:

  • Fatigue, weakness

  • Muscle aches, cramps, unusual pain (icepick, lightning bolt)

  • Headache (can be confused with migraine)

  • Sensitivity to bright light, eyes tearing (or lack of tearing), blurred vision, redness

  • Chronic sinus congestion, cough, shortness of breath

  • Abdominal pain (often labeled IBS), diarrhea (often secretory), gingival disease, receding gums

  • Joint pain, enthesopathy (pain/disorder where tendons/ligaments attach to bone), morning stiffness, migratory, rarely true arthritis

  • Cognitive impairment, recent memory impairment, reduced assimilation of new knowledge, impairment of handling of numbers, difficulty finding words in conversation, confusion, difficulty sustaining concentration, disorientation, “brain fog”

  • Skin sensitivity to light touch, rash, rosacea

  • Mood swings, appetite swings, sweats, night sweats, difficulty with temperature regulation

  • Numbness, tingling, often non-anatomic, vertigo, metallic taste

  • Excessive thirst, frequent urination, sensitivity to static shocks (doorknobs, car handles, light switch plates, kisses)

  • Impotence, menorrhagia (excessive menstrual bleeding), nose bleeds (clotting abnormalities)

If symptoms from 4 of the above groups apply to you, we can help!

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