Please note: The animated exchange below is an accurate representation of the kind of rude exchanges CIRS patients have with some doctors. That said, I must confess that I, too, was a naysayer about mold toxicity. It all seemed too incredible to me. In retrospect, I admit that my mind was not curious enough to explore what it didn’t know on the subject of mold, water damaged buildings, and inflammation.
Most of the medical colleagues I’ve had the pleasure to know and to work alongside are intelligent, hard-working, and caring physicians. With all the changes happening in health care, these days, I sense a kind of chill effect that deters good physicians from being curious enough to review the evidence for a condition that is not mentioned in their current batch of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. If diverging from those guidelines is to risk drawing negative attention, then the problem is with restrictions on the assimilation of new kinds of medical evidence, not the good physicians. Yet I keep hearing stories from CIRS patients about the rude treatments they were subjected to by doctors who are unwilling to believe that CIRS is a real thing when they haven’t even bothered to look! I hope we can put an end to CIRS blindness on the part of the medical profession. Doing so will go a long way toward ending the kind of unsatisfying exchange shown in the cartoon below.
Mold toxicity is the most common term used to refer to the medical condition known as Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome, or CIRS (pronounced, serz). Mold toxicity syndrome is more properly described as CIRS-WDB, where WDB stands for “water damaged buildings.” Indoor air made sick by a combination by toxins and other inflammation-causing particulates is now known to trigger a poorly regulated response by the immune system that can result in multiple symptoms involving multiple bodily systems. The symptoms may seem disconnected and hard to explain but they are related to an underlying cause.
Based on data generated by Ritchie Shoemaker, MD, and colleagues over the past 20 years, we know that some people are genetically susceptible to CIRS-WDB while other people are not. We are not yet sure what underlies the genetic susceptibility. It may related to poor clearance of the volume of toxic and inflammatory particulates making their way into the body, and perhaps a weakness in what immunologists call “antigen presentation.”
In clinical practice, eighty percent or more of CIRS cases relate to buildings with current or past water damage. Molds and bacteria transition into growth mode in the presence of moisture and food (cellulose, dust, wood, drywall, cardboard, fibrous insulation, etc). When in growth mode, molds and bacteria produce nano-sized toxins that easily become airborne and can settle with dust. Mold and bacterial DNA and cell wall fragments also easily mobilize into the air in water damaged buildings. Once inhaled and distributed into the tissue compartments of the body, a systemic innate immune system-driven form of inflammation ensues. This response involves a genetically coded reaction to microbe-associated molecular patterns, or MAMPs, sometimes called PAMPs (pathogen-associated molecular patterns).
Once formed, these toxic and inflammatory particulates can remain in the air and settled dust of a building despite even when the building’s water damage was remediated to industry standards. Sampling air with spore traps fails to take into account the remaining particulates that can be inhaled and trigger the kind of inflammation seen in cases of CIRS-WDB.
For a more detailed overview of a well-grounded scientific understanding of the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of CIRS-WDB, view the slide presentation below:
For a detailed overview of Mold Toxicity Syndrome (the chronic inflammatory syndrome also known as CIRS-WDB), click on the title below.
Here is Dr. Berndtson’s interview with Mike Mutzel of High Intensity Health which provides a solid overview of his approach:
Click on the title below to open a pdf listing of resources on mold illness compiled by Lisa Petrison, a leading advocate in the struggle to raise awareness about the mechanisms and treatment of illnesses related to toxic molds.