In South Florida, it has been almost 3 months since Hurricane Irma. Many of us are still working to get our homes repaired.
However, the biggest long-term threat that people may face are the health problems that water damaged buildings and mold can cause.
90% of the air that we breath comes from the indoor environment. The World Health Organization estimates that over 50% of buildings have some degree of water damage. And when you combine drywalls with water and Florida heat you get a petri dish for mold and bacteria growth.
Most people know about allergic reactions to mold that can manifest as respiratory symptoms. Far more serious and pernicious is a condition that called CIRS – chronic inflammatory response syndrome.
CIRS occurs in people who are exposed to biotoxins from water damaged buildings and whose genetics make them unable to clear the biotoxins from their systems. As a result, there is ongoing inflammation as well as hormone disturbances in the body. Symptoms can include fatigue, respiratory symptoms, headache, sinus issues, cognitive issues, joint and muscle problems, digestive problems, and unusual symptoms such as static shocks and foot cramping. Often times, people are incorrectly diagnosed as having chronic fatigue or being told “it’s in your head.”
CIRS is much more common than people think. Fortunately, CIRS can be diagnosed by history, genes, symptoms, and lab results. It is highly treatable by the appropriate specialist.
There is a simple screening test of your visual contrast sensitivity that can be done online. Anyone with a computer can go online to VCStest.com and take the test for free or a low-cost donation. A positive result means you should get further evaluation. A negative test lowers the chance you have a CIRS but if you have a lot of symptoms you should still go see a specialist.
There are very specific tests that can measure inflammation due to mold. Many of these tests aren’t part of traditional testing, so it’s important to see an expert. Many of the medical tests that screen for inflammation don’t measure the pathways activated in CIRS. In addition, brain injury from water damaged buildings has a clear and distinctive fingerprint shown on a brain MRI and an FDA approved software program called volumetrics.
Only a subset of the population are genetically susceptible. You can get a test that measures your HLA antigens which are part of the process that your body uses to clear toxins. 24% of the population are readily susceptible to this condition and 3% of the population are highly susceptible.
- At Rezilir Health, we are one of the few medical groups in the country that are certified in the protocol that has been shown in peer-reviewed literature to reverse the symptoms of CIRS. We have 3 principles when we treat patients with CIRS.
- Get out of unsafe environments. There is specific testing for the amount of mold in a home or workplace that can demonstrate whether it is safe for people with CIRS. Air samples are not sufficient! It is important that people get accurate guidance by a trained indoor environmental professional on how remediation is done in order to create a safe environment. A basic principle applies – if there is ongoing exposure to mold and biotoxins, medical treatment cannot work.
- Help the body get rid of mold. Fortunately, there is a safe drug called cholestyramine that has been proven to be highly effective at helping the body excrete the mold through the bile and gut.
- Turn off the chronic inflammation. This involves multiple steps culminating with a drug called vasoactive intestinal peptide. Research has shown that this stepwise protocol has been effective both in reversing the brain swelling from CIRS and turning off the gene activation caused by mold. The good news is that 90% of the time, this approach is able to help patients significantly.
Awareness is increasing about this condition, but there is also a great deal of misinformation especially on the internet. If you have questions on this important subject or want more detailed information, do not hesitate to call us at 1.866.REZILIR or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Craig Thano, M.D.