The symptoms most commonly reported by those affected by a “sick house” are many and varied, depending on the sensitivity of the person and the severity of the issues in the home. Common symptoms usually fall into a few broad categories:
- Respiratory Symptoms – congestion, aggravated asthma or allergies, sinus infections
- Cognitive Issues – foggy thinking, sleep disturbance, frequent headaches
- Emotional Changes – feeling agitated or depressed
- Physical Symptoms – stomach discomfort, muscle aches, fatigue, rashes, sore throat
In our experience, one of the most important indicators is the, “I just don’t feel right” feeling that doesn't really go away. You feel "like you are getting the flu" but it doesn't become the flu. Or, it frequently feels like you didn’t get a good night’s sleep, when you got a full 8-hours. Or you experience cold-like symptoms that don’t run their course in a week or so as with a real cold and seem to return frequently.
Another indicator is that you simply feel better when you leave the house. Many people feel great while on vacation only to have symptoms recur a day or two after returning home. While it might be a case of the post-vacation blues, if it happens regardless of where you go when you leave the house, you may want to dig deeper.
A final indicator is that you notice that your symptoms start or get worse when something specific happens in your home, like the heater comes on, you go into the moldy guestroom to do some cleaning, or your basement gets damp after a few days of rain. Cooking, vacuuming, remodeling, or bringing in new carpeting or furniture can also trigger symptoms.
It is important to remember that each home is different and each person who lives in that home is different, so while one occupant might get headaches from the moldy guest room another might have constant sinus congestion and a frequently sore throat. And health complaints can range from moderate to severe, both in intensity and frequency further complicating the identification of the health impacts an unhealthy home might have on its occupants.
If you think your home may be causing health issues for you and your family, getting your Hayward Score is a great way to begin your journey. It will identify the areas in your home that are the likely source of problems and give you actionable steps to address each one. Even if you can’t tackle all of them at once, every step you take will be a positive one!