Sick building syndrome is the name for symptoms you only get while in a particular building, usually an office.

Check if you have sick building syndrome

Symptoms of sick building syndrome get worse the longer you’re in a particular building and get better after you leave.

Other people in the building may also have symptoms.

Possible symptoms include:

  • headaches
  • blocked or runny nose
  • dry, itchy skin
  • dry, sore eyes
  • rashes
  • tiredness and difficulty concentrating

How to ease the symptoms yourself

It might help to:

  • open windows to improve ventilation, if you can
  • not set the temperature too high (aim for about 19C) and don’t change it lots of times during the day
  • try to reduce workplace stress
  • take regular screen breaks if you use a computer
  • go outside for some fresh air during lunchtime and other breaks

Try these things to see if your symptoms improve.

If you think you have sick building syndrome, speak to:

  • your manager or employer – if you get symptoms at work
  • the building manager or owner (such as the landlord) – if you get symptoms in another building

They should look into the problem and try to find a solution.

Causes of sick building syndrome

It’s not clear exactly what causes sick building syndrome.

It’s probably due to a combination of things, including:

  • poor ventilation or poorly maintained air conditioning systems
  • dust, smoke, fumes or fabric fibres in the air
  • bright or flickering lights

Sick building syndrome is most common in open-plan offices, but you can get it in any building.