Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS)

Medically Reviewed on 2/28/2023

What is chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS)?

Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome
CIRS cannot be completely cured; however, treatment can help alleviate symptoms.

Chronic inflammatory response syndrome is a multisystem and multi-symptom illness that occurs when a person gets exposed to toxins such as mold spores or biotoxins found in tick or spider bites. These toxins get attached to the immune system to trigger an inflammatory response and induce hormonal changes. The immune system produces an excess of cytokines that can lead to the immune system attacking its tissues, causing inflammation and other associated symptoms.

What are the symptoms of CIRS?

Chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS) is a syndrome and not a disease. Symptoms of CIRS are categorized into 13 unique clusters. If a person exhibits eight of these symptoms, it could indicate a positive CIRS diagnosis.

  1. FatigueCIRS could result in persistent and chronic fatigue that could impair a person’s quality of life. Chronic fatigue coupled with other symptoms could be an indicator of CIRS.
  2. Body aches, weakness, headache, light sensitivity, and decreased assimilation of new knowledge: Constant body aches, headaches, and other associated symptoms could indicate CIRS.
  3. Joint pain, morning stiffness, and cramps: Joint pain, morning stiffness, and cramps, when clustered together, could indicate CIRS.
  4. Disorientation, tearing of the eyes, and metallic taste: Disorientation could be paired with a metallic taste in the mouth and constant watery eyes.
  5. Congested sinuses and shortness of breath: The nose and sinuses are the primary spots to produce mycotoxins that could interfere with breathing
  6. Impaired memory and decreased word finding: CIRS can impair a person’s memory, making it difficult to find the right words.
  7. Skin sensitivity and tingling: One of the most common symptoms, skin sensitivity, including rashes and pins and needle tingling, can indicate CIRS. 
  8. Ice-pick pain, red eyes, blurred vision, sweats, and mood swings: One of the more wide-ranging clusters of symptoms.
  9. Difficulty concentrating: When inflammation reaches the brain, it could lead to symptoms such as difficulty concentrating.
  10. Vertigo and static shocks: Result from a weak immune system.
  11. Excessive thirst, cough, and confusion: Toxins from mold exposure can cause excessive thirst. Cough, confusion, and excessive thirst are related but not dependent on each other.
  12. Difficulty regulating body temperature, increased urinary frequency, and appetite swings: Difficulty regulating body temperature could be a classic sign of CIRS. Frequent urination in this cluster may be common for both CIRS and fibromyalgia.
  13. Abdominal pain, diarrhea, and numbness: Abdominal pain is one of the common inflammatory symptoms of CIRS. It could be accompanied by diarrhea, leaky gut, and numbness.

What causes chronic inflammatory response syndrome?

Biotoxins (fat-soluble molecules that travel from cell to cell without entering the bloodstream) are the leading cause of chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS). Measuring biotoxins in the blood is difficult, but doctors usually identify them by the damage inflicted on various organs.

A person may get exposed to biotoxins in the following ways:

  • Inhalation in water-damaged buildings: Any water damage in the building can pave the way for developing fungi, bacteria, actinomycetes, mycobacteria, and other substances. Some of the mold species responsible for causing CIRS include:
    • Aspergillus penicilloides
    • Aspergillus versicolor
    • Chaetomium globosum
    • Stachybotrys chartarum
    • Wallemia sebi
  • Tick or spider bite: Can release biotoxins that lead to CIRS. Ticks carry these infections:
    • Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease)
    • Babesia microti (Babesiosis)
    • Other infections (Bartonella, Anaplasma and Ehrlichia)
  • Fish poisoning: Ciguatera is the most common fish poisoning commonly found in reef fish such as barracuda, grouper, and snapper. These fish tend on smaller fish that have consumed biotoxins.
  • Contact with contaminated water: If a person comes in direct contact with water contaminated with neurotoxins, it can cause CIRS.


Bowel regularity means a bowel movement every day. See Answer

How do doctors test for CIRS?

Doctors may identify chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS) in the following ways:

  • A person presenting symptoms from eight or more clusters may be tested positive for CIRS diagnosis
  • Visual contrast sensitivity testing to identify if the person’s ability to detect visual patterns has been impaired
  • Genetic testing detects if the person is genetically susceptible to biotoxin-related illness
  • Blood tests to identify various markers
  • MRI scanning to identify any abnormalities in the brain’s structure or brain atrophy
  • A deep nasal swab to identify the presence of multiple antibiotic resistant coagulate negative staphylococci

Can CIRS be cured?

Chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS) cannot be cured completely. However, following the treatment protocol can help treat CIRS.

The treatment pathways are as follows:

  • Removing the person from exposure to the biotoxins, including moving house or replacing possessions, can help eliminate the root cause. Identifying and treating the root cause is essential for better treatment outcomes
  • Giving binder medications such as cholestyramine, activated charcoal, or bentonite to eliminate toxins from the system
  • Administering a vasoactive intestinal polypeptide nasal spray to help prevent inflammation
  • Correction of inflammatory and hormonal dysregulation
  • Eliminating multiple antibiotic-resistant coagulase-negative staphylococci, if present

3 diseases linked with chronic inflammation

Chronic inflammation-led diseases are the significant cause of death in the world. Chronic inflammation has been associated with various diseases, which include:

  1. Diabetes mellitus: Seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Approximately, 30.3 million people had diabetes in 2015.
  2. Cardiovascular diseases: The United States has reported 8,00,000 deaths caused due to cardiovascular diseases. Coronary heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death in the United States.
  3. Allergies: Ranked the sixth leading cause of chronic illnesses, allergies affect 50 million Americans annually. The most common allergic conditions in the United States are asthma and hay fever.
Medically Reviewed on 2/28/2023
Image Source: iStock image

Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS):

Chronic Inflammation: