Workplace Mold

CIRS and Mold-Related Disorders in Workers’ Compensation Cases

CIRS, also known as chronic inflammatory response syndrome, is a complex disorder related to your immune system and environmental toxins that trigger an aggressive auto-immune response. The condition is progressive, so early diagnosis is important. Unfortunately, CIRS was only described in 1994 and there is limited research on the condition. It is often misdiagnosed by well-meaning doctors prolonging the patient’s suffering and reducing their prognosis.

CIRS is generally caused by environmental toxins commonly found in water-damaged buildings such as mold, fungus, and bacteria. However, it can be caused by Lyme Disease and other conditions as well. This makes it difficult for employees who have developed the condition to prove their case to their employer’s workers’ compensation insurer. Employees will have to fight to prove that their condition really is CIRS and when proven, that their work environment caused or contributed to their injuries.

CIRS is commonly misdiagnosed

It can be frustrating to get a firm diagnosis of CIRS. It is commonly misdiagnosed as a psychiatric or somatic disorder. In other words, even though you are suffering from rashes, itchy eyes, nausea, bowel disturbances, sleep disturbances, and more, you can be misdiagnosed as having anxiety, depression, or a “functional”/”somatic” disorder (conversion disorder). That’s because doctors may not be able to find anything specifically wrong with you. Those who have a history of psychiatric illness or PTSD are more likely to be misdiagnosed in this manner than the general population.

Alternatively, CIRS can be confused with other physical conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s, allergies, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome. While CIRS can be effectively treated, treating any of the aforementioned disorders, including psychiatric disorders, will not improve the patient’s condition. Often, it is after years of suffering from an unknown condition that a diagnosis of CIRS is finally made. At this point, doctors will have tried several remedies that failed.

Why is CIRS so difficult to diagnose?

When a patient presents to their doctor complaining of specific chronic symptoms, the doctor is trained to make the most likely diagnosis first. With CIRS, it is much more difficult because acute inflammation related to the disorder may not be present when the patient goes to the doctor. They are no longer in a hostile environment. So their laboratory reports come back clean. Additionally, CIRS is not well understood, but there are specific genetic markers that make you more likely to develop the condition. That, in combination with evidence of water damage and a specific constellation of symptoms is enough to get a diagnosis.

The good news is that CIRS is treatable. The bad news is that it can be difficult to prove if you’ve acquired the condition from your place of employment. The New Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys at Schibell Law, LLC have years of experience helping those who suffer from CIRS recover workers’ compensation payments. Call today and we can discuss your next steps immediately.

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