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How to beat ‘sick building syndrome’

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sick building syndrome

ARE you feeling sick at the office without knowing exactly why?

You may be suffering from sick building syndrome (SBS), which is a “collection of various symptoms and illnesses due to poor air quality in a building or shared confined space.” It affects two out of every 10 employees, and the symptoms are only experienced when in the workplace.

Makati Medical Center (MakatiMed) offers some suggestions on how workers, who spend eight to ten hours at the office, can deal with SBS.

Improving one’s workplace environment is a must. People with sick building syndrome may complain of severe headaches, nausea, fever, chills, throat irritation, and difficulty in breathing while inside the office. SBS is usually connected to poor ventilation and air quality.

“We usually associate air pollution with the outside environment, but poor air circulation indoors can also harm people,” Gregorio Ocampo, MD of the MakatiMed’s Department of Medicine, said.

To lessen exposure to triggers, Dr. Ocampo said employees should regularly clean their desks and invest in LED or blue desk lights for less energy output. Employees can also request the company update the computer monitors, other display systems and air-conditioning units as needed.




Also, excessive work stress or dissatisfaction, poor interpersonal relationships and poor communications are often linked with SBS.

“There are studies that show a combination of sensitivity to environment and stress can greatly contribute to sick building syndrome,” Elizabeth Rondain, MD of MakatiMed’s Section of Psychiatry, said.

General symptoms like headaches, abnormal tiredness and sensation of cold and nausea are significantly associated with workload and conflict. Upper respiratory symptoms are linked to crowded workspaces and low work satisfaction. Skin symptoms include eczema, itching and rashes on the hands and face.

If symptoms continue to persist, one should visit the doctor.

“Working under comfortable conditions that make you happy and motivated at work is important. If your physical and psychosocial environment gets in the way of your health and performance, it’s time to implement changes and get yourself checked,” Dr. Rondain said.