Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS)

by | Jan 20, 2024 | Articles, Chronic Infections, Conditions, Fatigue, Fibromyalgia

Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) is a condition in which individuals have a heightened immune response to environmental toxins, particularly mold and mycotoxins, Borrelia bacteria associated with Lyme disease, dinoflagellates from eating contaminated fish, or swimming, drinking or inhaling aerosolized particles while in water contaminated with cyanobacteria or other biotoxin producing organisms.

CIRS is especially triggered by exposure to water-damaged buildings or other environments with high levels of mold.  Biotoxins is a general term for mold, bacteria, toxic metabolic products, cell wall fragments, and other organic compounds that can make someone sick.

Who is Susceptible to CIRS?

The pathophysiology of CIRS involves a complex immune response, which can lead to chronic inflammation and a range of symptoms affecting multiple organ systems.  Normally, the two branches of the immune system work in tandem to eliminate pathogens, with the “innate” immune system serving as the first line of defense.  When the innate system encounters biotoxins it send alarm signals to the “adaptive” immune system which generates a more robust, specific and long lasting defense.

About 25% of individuals have genetic mutations that cause their adaptive immune system to not get the alarm signal for biotoxins.  This leaves the innate immune system without support so it stays excessively ramped up and triggers a cascade of effects in other areas.

Note that these individuals often remain ill even after moving from a location where mold exposure was occurring.  This is due to the ongoing immune system activation that needs to be “reset”.

Symptoms of CIRS

Symptoms of CIRS can vary widely and may include fatigue, cognitive difficulties, brain fog, muscle and joint pains, respiratory symptoms, gastrointestinal issues, headaches, and sensitivity to light and sound, among others.

Diagnosing CIRS can be challenging, as it shares similarities with other conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and autoimmune disorders. It typically involves a combination of medical history, symptom assessment, laboratory testing, and exposure history.

See our article on Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) Testing for more specifics.

Treatment of CIRS

Treatment of CIRS often involves a stepwise approach starting with reducing exposure to mold and mycotoxins, supporting detoxification pathways, and modulating the immune response. This typically includes measures such as avoidance of mold exposure, detoxification protocols, dietary changes, and supplements and prescription medications to “reset” the various systems that are out of control.  We might need to address underlying infections and use supportive therapies to manage symptoms.

See our article on Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) Treatment Summary for more specifics.

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