Is breast implant illness actually CIRS?
With a number of overlapping symptoms, many patients wonder if their breast implant illness is actually CIRS (chronic inflammatory response syndrome).
Before we dive in, let’s take a look at breast implant illness.
What is breast implant illness?
Breast implant illness (BII) is a term used to describe the wide range of symptoms that some women with breast implants experience.
While there is an ongoing debate about whether BII exists, patients tend to report similar symptoms. These symptoms include:
- joint and muscle pain,
- brain fog
- skin rashes
- hair loss
- GI issues
- various auto-immune symptoms ( joint swelling, inflammation, or flu-like symptoms)
- anxiety and depression
The exact cause of these reported symptoms isn’t clear and continues to be a subject of debate. They can also vary between people. Some theories suggest that BII may be related to an immune or inflammatory response triggered by the presence of breast implants, particularly those containing silicone. However, a definite relationship has not been proven.
Fortunately, new studies are starting to show BII may exist (thank goodness!). A study by Watad et al. evaluated the medical records of more than 24,000 women with breast implants compared to more than 98,000 women with the same demographic traits who did not have breast implants.
The researchers found a 22% increase in several diagnosed diseases, increasing to more than 60% for Sjogren’s syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and sarcoidosis. This is an important first step in recognizing breast implant illness may exist.
How frequently does breast implant illness occur?
It’s hard to know how often breast implant illness (BII) occurs as there isn’t a good way to diagnose is, and reporting of BII is inconsistent. It is also difficult to find clear statistics due to the controversy surrounding breast implant illness.
There have been many studies that have looked at the connection between breast implants and systemic health problems. However, the findings have been inconsistent. Some studies suggest a potential link, but others find no evidence of a direct association. This is partly due to patents reporting a wide variety of symptoms, as well as the lack of a definitive form of diagnosis.
It is important to note that the majority of individuals with breast implants do not experience symptoms associated with BII. While some patients claim to experience BII symptoms, it is currently unclear how many cases can be attributed directly to breast implants.
If you believe you are suffering from breast implant illness, it is essential to consult with a qualified healthcare professional. You need to discuss your concerns, undergo a thorough evaluation, and receive appropriate advice based on your individual circumstances.
In some cases, the recommendation may involve the removal or replacement of the implants.
The CIRS symptom cluster
Some practitioners have theorized that breast implant illness may actually be CIRS (chronic inflammatory immune response). CIRS is a complex medical condition. It’s an illness with a wide variety of symptoms that is triggered by exposure to biotoxins.
Biotoxins are substances produced by living organisms such as fungi, bacteria, and other microorganisms. These toxins can cause a range of health problems in humans, including immune dysregulation and chronic inflammation. It can be difficult to diagnose and treat, as patients often suffer from a wide range of symptoms that can mimic other conditions.
These are the scientifically proven symptoms of CIRS:
- General fatigue and weakness
- Muscles – aches, cramps (claw-like cramping of hands and feet), joint pains, morning stiffness, ice-pick pains
- General – headache, frequent urination and increased thirst, night sweats, static electricity or shocks, appetite swings.
- Eyes – light sensitivity, red eyes, blurred vision, tearing
- Respiratory – sinus congestion, cough, shortness of breath
- Gastrointestinal – abdominal pain, diarrhea
- Neurological – numbness, tingling, metallic taste, vertigo, temperature regulation, dizziness, tics, atypical seizures, fine motor skill problems
- Cognitive – memory loss, concentration difficulties, confusion, learning difficulties, difficulty finding words, disorientation, mood swings, anxiety, panic
You may notice there is some overlap in symptoms between breast implant illness and CIRS.
This isn’t to say that breast implant illness is not CIRS. I believe this area needs further exploration.
CIRS and breast implant illness
As I mentioned, there isn’t one definitive way to diagnose breast implant illness. Meaning that there isn’t a lab test you can run to determine if you have BII. You’ll also get a lot of opposition from the medical community because as far as they’re concerned, BII doesn’t exist.
Even if you were to get a formal diagnosis from a medical practitioner, what can you do with it?
A lot of patients who have their breast implants removed report that their symptoms do not go away. Should your symptoms continue after surgery, there is no treatment protocol to follow.
Now, before I get into CIRS, let me be clear once again; I’m not saying that breast implant illness is CIRS. Right now we don’t know if that’s true. But there is a compelling overlap of symptoms that present in a similar manner.
Unlike breast implant illness, CIRS is a scientifically proven illness with a proven method of diagnosis and treatment. At the very least you can do the initial CIRS screening to see if chronic inflammatory response syndrome is responsible for your symptoms.
To rule out CIRS, I recommend starting with a VCS eye test. This is a screen that determines if toxins are affecting the nerve in your eye that perceives contrast. The test is about 95% effective at determining if you are suffering from CIRS.
If that’s positive, you need to find a CIRS-trained practitioner to lead you through a thorough case history and ensure your presenting symptoms are similar to those found in CIRS.
Then, it’s time for bloodwork. CIRS has a clearly defined diagnostic protocol. If your tests come back positive, you’ve got CIRS. After diagnosis, it’s time for you to follow the Shoemaker Protocol.