Sick Building Syndrome (Environmental Illness, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity or MCS)

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

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How is sick building syndrome diagnosed?

The vast majority of clinicians, whether they agree or disagree that sick building syndrome exists as a medical entity, agree on one major point; there are no tests that can reliably diagnose the alleged sick building syndrome.

What is the treatment for sick building syndrome?

There are no proven treatments for this proposed disease. However, some doctors report reduction of patient's nonspecific symptoms by prescribing antidepressants (for example, fluoxetine [Prozac], paroxetine [Paxil]) or medications for anxiety or medications to help individuals sleep better. In addition, symptomatic treatment, while not treating the unknown cause(s), may provide individual symptom reduction or relief (for example, medication for nausea or headaches).

There may be known conditions in buildings that are related to this proposed syndrome that can be remedied by following building codes and other practices suggested by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and OSHA; some of the major mechanisms are cited in the Prevention section below.

What are complications of sick building syndrome?

The complications of this alleged syndrome include increasing symptoms, interference of job productivity, job loss, necessity of relocation, extensive and expensive building testing (materials and airflow testing), and many medical tests to try to achieve a definitive diagnosis.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/23/2015

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