Could your headache and other chronic symptoms be connected to your workplace?

With the average Joes spending around 90,000 hours at work over the course of their lifetime, it’s time we seriously considered how our work impacts our health. While we may not think about it often, the building we work in day after day could actually be making us sick. Find out more about sick building syndrome and what an otolaryngologist can do to treat your symptoms.

What are the symptoms of sick building syndrome (SBS)?

Some of the signs that you may have SBS include:

  • Extreme exhaustion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Shortness of breath
  • An overall achy feeling
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Lightheadedness
  • Irritated eyes, nose or throat
  • Skin rash or irritation

Some people with SBS experience all or most of these symptoms while others only report having one or two symptoms. The symptoms may come and go throughout the week. Someone who has SBS will often find that their symptoms get better or clear up while they are away from the building but manifest when they return to the building.

Who can develop SBS?

While anyone can be susceptible, those who work in modern office buildings with air conditioning and windows that can’t be opened are more likely to develop this condition. Even though SBS tends to be more common in those working in office buildings, it can still occur in other settings such as schools, museums or libraries.

What can put someone at risk for SBS?

While the direct cause of SBS is still unknown, there are many risk factors that could potentially lead to SBS:

  • Constant changes in temperature throughout the day
  • Chemical irritants
  • Environmental pollutants or allergens
  • An unclean working environment
  • Low humidity
  • Lack of ventilation
  • Stress
  • Poor lighting

If your office could be making you sick it’s a good time to talk to both an ENT specialist and your employer about ways to improve your work conditions to reduce your symptoms of SBS.

If you are concerned that the symptoms you are experiencing could be the result of the building in which you work, then it’s time to seek medical care right away. An ENT doctor will be able to help you determine from where your symptoms might be stemming to get you on a treatment course that works for you.