Overview of Mold Illness Diagnosis
What Is Mold Illness?
Mold illness is not an allergy. It is inflammation within the body which is caused by an immune system that has gone haywire. The term "mold illness" is a subcategory of biotoxin illness, called Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS). The proper definition of CIRS is:
an acute and chronic, systemic inflammatory response syndrome acquired following exposure to the interior environment of a water-damaged building with resident toxigenic organisms, including, but not limited to fungi, bacteria, actinomycetes and mycobacteria as well as inflammagens such as endotoxins, beta glucans, hemolysins, proteinases, mannans, c-type lectins and possibly spirocyclic drimanes, plus volatile organic compounds.
What Happens in the Body?
Many patients don't "look that bad." But that person is struggling with an illness that causes them to lose their quality of life. These patients didn't know that their genes made them prime targets for an assault by their own innate immune systems. Because of exposure to the interior environment of a Water-Damaged Building (WDB), these patients have an innate immune response that is going haywire.
At the core of why one person becomes ill from this exposure and another doesn't is because of their genetic susceptibility (or predisposition) - what is built into their DNA. Every person's innate immune system is personal and genetically coded - thus, it works differently for each of us. When the body is faced with a foreign substance, it immediately begins to process that substance - determine if it is good or bad, a friend or a foe. If the body determines the substance is a foe, it will develop antibodies to bind these substances, called antigens. Normally then, the next time a non-mold susceptible person walks into a WDB, his antibodies will target the antigen and clear it out fast.
However, there is an occurence of specific genes in about 25% of the population that cause this process of building antibodies to the substances in the WDB to fail. Think of a computer operating system full or errors. In these people, the antigens stay in the body, and our own defenses bombard our body and cause inflammation in the body to go wild. What you now have is a shell of a person who is defenseless against new exposures and is suffering daily from inflammation. The inate immune system doesn't recognize these toxic organisms and goes nuts in the body.
It is a vicious cycle - the foreign antigens (substances) stay in the body, causing the immune system to constantly fight back. This causes so much inflammation in the body that it leads to chronic illness, and the occurrence of the many symptoms listed above. Our entire being suffers from friendly fire from our own innate immune system.
How Did I Get Sick?
This illness happens after exposure to the interior environment of a Water-Damaged Building (WDB). There are many ways buildings become home to a toxic mix of microbes, fragments of microbes, and harmful chemicals. Buildings can host fungi, bacteria, mycobacteria, and actinomycetes as a result of construction defects like inappropriate ventilation; faulty construction of crawl spaces or inadequate building design; flat roofs or fake stucco cladding without adequate caulking; incomplete basements exposed to saturated ground water conditions; or not correcting water leaks.
Since 1998, Dr. Shoemaker has treated over 6,000 patients with an illness caused by exposure to these conditions. Each patient has a syndrome that is readily identified by blood tests performed in standard medical labs all over the country. These illnesses reflect a growing societal problem: dangerous buildings. Inhaling these dangerous inflammagens is what makes people sick.
We live in the Era of Dangerous Buildings, so the likelihood that you won't ever be exposed to dangerous buildings is quite low.
Dr. Shoemaker on Biotoxin Illness
We invite you to view this hour and a half talk given by Dr. Shoemaker to a group of physicians in November of 2011. It gives an extensive overview of biotoxin illness and the many components that make up diagnosis and treatment.