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Are you getting ill because of sick building syndrome?

The idea of "sick building syndrome" sounds like a joke. How can a building get sick? The problem is that "sick building" doesn't refer to the sickness of the building as much as it does the illnesses and ailments contracted by the employees and visitors who spend a lot of time there.

Sick building syndrome is not only a problem for workers who get sick because they spend most of their day in a building, but it can also cut into the profits of business owners whose employees are forced to work in the affected building. Symptoms triggered by sick buildings include skin rashes, itchy eyes, allergies, nasal problems, aches and pains, fatigue and even sensitivity to smells.

The term "sick building syndrome" first appeared in the 1970s. Inspectors may diagnose a building as being "sick" after a large number of people living or working inside it start to develop illnesses, allergies and other health problems.

Here's what to look for when determining if the building you work in is sick:

-- Symptoms of sickness directly correlate to the amount of time that individuals spend inside the building.

-- Symptoms get better when the person doesn't enter the building for a period.

-- Symptoms happen seasonally when air conditioning or heating systems are activated.

-- Peers and co-workers in the building complain of similar problems.

In some situations, sick building syndrome can trigger severe health problems that require a worker to spend time away from work. If this has happened to you, it may be possible to file a workers' compensation claim to seek money to pay for your medical care.

Source: The Environmental Illness Resource, "Sick building syndrome (SBS)," accessed May 26, 2017

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