Has anyone heard of Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS)? Would you say it is a real illness that can be treated? It is described as a multi-system, multi-symptom illness.

There are peer-reviewed research papers written about it available here(originally published in well-known and reputable scientific journals such as PubMed and Elsevier/ScienceDirect):


Research papers written about the topic of illness caused by genetic susceptibility to various toxic molds that grow indoors start at #9 on the research paper list at the link provided. They are spread throughout the page along with papers about Pfistieria and Lyme Disease./

The illness mentioned was originally known as Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) and is now known as CIRS by its proponents and practitioners.

The ideas behind the topic (that mold can cause illnesses) are implied to be truthful based on documents from HUD and the EPA, links to such information here:



I have written and delivered a short speech on the topic previously in a communications course. I would like to confirm what I spoke about is based on scientifically truthful information.

I would like feedback from well-informed individuals to know, what do you think of this?

Is it possible for molds growing indoors to cause a multi-system illness, multi-symptom illness? Are the research papers enough for those in the medical community to confirm the illness is real? And that there are proper treatment protocols in place (Shoemaker Protocol/ Surviving Mold Protocol)?

  • CIRS seems to be mainly a malady known only to alternative health advocates and is usually accompanied by a pitch selling you something. Common mold found in household showers and such isn't recognized as a source of CIRS or anything else. The only recognition I can find of CIRS being a real thing is in water damaged buildings (floods, etc). We require questions here to demonstrate at least a basic level of prior research, so what have you found? Do you have any reputable sources saying CIRS is a real thing?
    – Carey Gregory
    Dec 24, 2019 at 1:50
  • I have found peer-reviewed research papers by a Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker. I’ve had blood tests done on myself according to the bio-markers indicated in Dr. Shoemaker’s group. I believe one paper was published in PubMed. Another paper or two was found published in Science Direct & Elsevier. I’ve found work from HUD and the EPA stating they are aware that molds are capable of causing illnesses in humans. I’ve written and previously delivered a short speech on the topic for a communications class as well with the information mentioned. The research papers state it is real and publishing indicates so Dec 24, 2019 at 2:08
  • For reference to those papers they are all published on the doctor's website in addition to the recognized medical journals. Papers regarding mold are spread throughout the list but they start at #9. survivingmold.com/legal-resources/publications/… Dec 24, 2019 at 2:29
  • Okay, that sounds great. Could you please edit your question to add all that information?
    – Carey Gregory
    Dec 24, 2019 at 5:24
  • Sure. Thank you for pointing me in the right direction with that. Will get that fixed up in a few minutes or so. Dec 24, 2019 at 5:25

1 Answer 1


"Chronic inflammatory response syndrome" (CIRS) is a new term for what was (and still is) known as sick building syndrome or building-related illness. Hypersensitivity pneumonitis seems to be a similar condition.

Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS)

According to how National Integrated Health Associates (NIHA) describes symptoms of CIRS, the condition seems to be very similar to sick building syndrome.

Shoemaker et al in this paper Research Committee Report on Diagnosis and Treatment of Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome Caused by Exposure to the Interior Environment of Water-Damaged Buildings, refer to sick building syndrome several times. All the references about the treatment lead only to Shoemaker and the co-authors. CIRS is not mentioned in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10).

Sick building syndrome

Sick building syndrome is still an officially recognized health condition by several health-related authorities:


The term is used when the cause in a specific case is not known; contaminants may include molds, other microbes, pollens, motor vehicle and building exhausts, etc. Symptoms may include headache, irritation of the eyes, nose or throat, dry cough, dry or itchy skin, dizziness, nausea, difficulty in concentrating, fatigue and sensitivity to odors (EPA.gov, 1991).

In most articles about sick building syndrome, there is no specific diagnostic or treatment protocol mentioned, but preventative measures, such as the removal from exposure and renovating the building, are suggested.

Building-related illness

According to MSD Manual, 2018, building-related illness is the term that is replacing the term sick building syndrome; symptoms listed are about the same. UpToDate suggests that the term should be used when it is associated with a specific illness.

Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis (Extrinsic Allergic Alveolitis)

According to MSD Manual:

Hypersensitivity pneumonitis is a syndrome of cough, dyspnea, and fatigue caused by sensitization and subsequent hypersensitivity to environmental (frequently occupational) antigens.

..which may be similar to conditions described above, but with causes including outdoor contaminants (molds, industrial gases, etc.) and with inflammation limited to the lungs. A clear diagnosis can be made with the help of imaging tests, bronchoalveolar lavage, etc, and treatment is with corticosteroids.

In summary, indoor molds could cause inflammation in the body, but except in hypersensitivity pneumonitis, there seems to be no well referenced diagnostic or treatment protocols. Symptoms seem to be reversible and may resolve spontaneously after removal from exposure.

  • It’s good to have all that information. Thank you for your assistance. I’d imagine the ICD-10 and the MSD Manual are the standard resources used for regular medical diagnoses. I was unaware of this before and it highlights the difference of CIRS illnesses as possibly not-so-widely-treatable illnesses, opposed to something like Crohn’s Disease, or other regularly occurring illnesses that are present in mainstream medicine. Dec 24, 2019 at 23:15

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