CIRS (Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome)
What is CIRS?
CIRS is a condition that affects around a quarter of the population - those who have a genetic susceptibility that affects the way their immune system processes. It is triggered by exposure to a biotoxin, which may be one or more of the following:
Exposure to water damaged buildings and the 'toxic soup' of microbes that evolves as a result of water intrusion, whether ongoing damp or from a one off leak. (This may not always be visible)
Tick bites, brown recluse spider bites
Eating contaminated fish
Exposure to algal blooms in nearby environment
CIRS is an inflammatory response to these triggers that can continue even if the exposure has long gone. It can often be the root cause of other diagnoses such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, autoimmune conditions and even cognitive decline and neurological issues such as Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and functional neurological disorder.
What are the symptoms of CIRS?
CIRS is a multi-symptom, multi-system illness affecting many areas of the body creating such diverse debilitating symptoms such as:
General symptoms: fatigue and weakness
Musculoskeletal: muscle aches, cramp, joint pain
Respiratory: cough, shortness of breath, chronic sinus issues, asthma
Eyes: redness, blurred vision, tearing, sensitivity to bright lights
Gastrointestinal: abdominal pain or cramping, nausea, diarrhoea
Central nervous system: memory loss, difficulty word finding, confusion, disorientation, difficulty concentrating, learning difficulties, mood swings
Neurological: headache, numbness, tingling, lightheadedness, vertigo, metallic taste, temperature dysregulation, tremor
Unusual symptoms: increased thirst, frequent urination, appetite swings, frequent electric shock
What to do next if you suspect you may have CIRS?
Take the tests
There are 2 screening tests that can be easily performed to help point to CIRS with a 97% rate of accuracy if performed correctly.
First is a questionnaire highlighing 37 potential symptoms which then has an algorithm applied to narrow down whether or not CIRS may be a concern.
The second screening test is an eye test that can be performed at home via a computer under very specific conditions. This is called a Visual Contrast Sensitivity test (VCS) which tests your ability to see contrast of grey lines. This assesses blood circulation to the retina as this can be temporarily affected by the activation of the innate immune system as seen in CIRS. If this test is failed, in one or both eyes, we would likely recommend pursuing a comprehensive panel of CIRS tests. The VCS test is also used to monitor change and improvement throughout our work with supporting you.
The VCS test costs $15 to do, available here: https://www.survivingmold.com/store/online-vcs-screening
You will also be asked to complete our questionnaire together with your submission of the VCS test.
Book a short call or a full consultation
With or without the screening tests, we can help you with your next steps of investigation and support. There are two options for you:
1. Book an initial assessment with member of our CIRS-certified Functional Medicine team (Julia or Keeley), where your full case history will be taken and your personalised support plan developed. It can be done face to face at our Warwickshire clinic or remotely via video call and costs £240 for up to 90 minutes.
2. Book a 30 minute pre-intake video call at a cost of £99. We offer this to anyone who suspects they may have CIRS and who feel they may need to look at what our work entails before committing to an initial consultation.
This 30 minute call is useful for those who suspect they may need to address their exposure and need some help understanding how to navigate this and what it all means. If you would rather take the 30 min call before doing your VCS and symptom questionnaire you can do so. Please note a medical history will not be taken during this 30 minute call so no personalised advice can be given without the initial consultation option, it is purely for discussion of CIRS and how best to navigate.
During this 30 minute call, you can expect:
Screening tests explanation
Discussion about potential biotoxin exposures and how to navigate these
CIRS Background and Development
CIRS is not currently a recognised condition in the UK, although it is in the USA. Dr Ritchie Shoemaker has pioneered the study of CIRS, identifying the condition through developed lab tests to characterise exactly the nature of the condition as each individual is unique within the CIRS umbrella. Dr Shoemaker worked together with Dr Jimmy Ryan to work through all the possible inflammatory genome changes that may be occurring, and narrowed their findings down to develop what is now known as the GENIE test. This test measures the changes in up or down-regulation of inflammatory genes. The GENIE test gives tremendous insight into the cause or trigger of the condition. For example, LYME has a particular genetic 'fingerprint' that can be observed on this transcriptomics test, which is different to mould or actinomycetes. We can also detect bacterial or viral triggers, which can provide valuable insight to someone with very poor health. Dr Shoemaker developed a comprehensive protocol to treat CIRS patients known worldwide as the 'Shoemaker Protocol'.