My Apartment Is Making Me Sick (Fast Solutions)

One of the worst feelings in the world is feeling sick or under the weather and not knowing what the underlying cause is.  Many people claim that their apartment is making them sick, some of them may have a legitimate concern, while others could be just psychological.  

If you think your apartment is making you sick, make sure you have good airflow throughout your apartment, and that there are no obvious cases of water damage or mold, which are frequent causes of cold and allergy-like symptoms. 

Frequently getting a cold or feeling like you have allergies doesn’t necessarily mean that your apartment is making you sick, but there are some things that you can rule out, and some simple things you can do to test whether or not some aspects of your apartment is making you sick. 

Can Your Apartment Make You Sick?

Yes, your apartment can absolutely make you sick, especially if there is evidence of mold, bugs, pesticides, lead paint, or gases present. 

These aren’t the only culprits that can cause you health issues.  Tobacco Smoke can be one of the most common hazards in an apartment.  Some people smoke in their apartment and try to hide it whether or not the apartment has a no-smoking policy or not.   

Or perhaps the apartment allowed smoking in the rooms a few years ago, but they don’t now.  All of those toxins are going to stay in the walls, ceilings, and carpets for years.  This is especially exacerbated if you, or someone who lives with you, smokes in the apartment.  

Before you run to your manager and blame the apartment for making you sick, make sure there is nothing you or the people you live with are doing that is creating the problem in the first place.   

Radon is something that always seems to be on the news and in commercials as something that you should be particularly afraid of.  While the impact on health in the United States by Radon is real, there is evidence to show that the negative impacts on health may be grossly overstated.  This doesn’t mean don’t check that Radon isn’t a valid reason, but it wouldn’t be number 1, or even number 10 on the top things to look for. 

Asbestos and lead can also be a cause of sickness, especially if the apartment building is particularly old.  Gases such as Carbon Monixide, Nitrogen Oxides, and Sulfur Dioxide, can wear on your health and cause flu like symptoms.  

Other allergens such as Pet Dander can also be the cause.  If your apartment has carpet in it, and it wasn’t cleaned by a professional cleaning company, your carpet could be the cause of your allergies and cold symptoms.  Hair and dander can stay in the carpet for years, even if there hasn’t been pets in there for awhile.   Before you move in, make sure to ask your landlord everything they did to the apartment to make it ready to move in. 

How Do You Tell If Your Apartment Is Making You Sick?

Regardless of what you might think right now as you are reading this article, trying to figure out if it really IS your apartment that is making you sick may not give you the specific results you want.  

The most common symptoms that tenants who believe their apartment is making them sick are Respiratory Issues such as Congestions, Sinus Infections, Asthma, or other Allergy-like symptoms. 

There ARE other symptoms that can be present that may indicate that your apartment is hazardous to your health is muscle aches, fatigue, a sore throat, and poor sleep.  Unfortunately, these symptoms are SO broad and can be indicative of almost anything, that tying them to the environment of your apartment is going to be next to impossible to do. 

Most people are fairly in tune with their body and know when they are feeling better or worse than normal.  A good indication of whether or not your apartment is contributing to you not feeling well is that you feel generally better after you have left your apartment for awhile, and start to feel worse again after you have returned home.  

Now, you are going to have to pay particular attention to these symptoms and make sure that your mind isn’t creating these symptoms because there is something else about your apartment that you don’t want, and what you really want is just to move out.  

I have dealt with this phenomenon many times over the course of owning apartment.  We will professionally clean the apartment, clean and repaint the walls, and make sure the bathrooms and kitchen areas are spotless.  The whole place is sanitized, smelling nice, and some of it is always brand new at the beginning of a new renter.   

But yet….the tenant still maintains that their apartment is the underlying cause of their health problems.   

Literally, the ONLY time I have EVER had to deal with someone who had a health problem with their apartment was a literally hoarder.  She had waist-high junk in her apartment, and yeah, she couldn’t clean that up very well.  

Besides that, I have found that, at least with the apartments I own, is that there are other factors involved with whatever health issues the tenant is going through.  Most of the time, they just don’t want to be at the apartment for whatever reasons, and are looking for a way to break the lease.  

Not saying at all that this is the deal with your current issue, but if it is, better to just talk to your landlord about why you want to get out of your lease, it’s a much easier solution.  

What If I Have Mold In My Apartment?

I have actually written an entire article on Mold, and in it, you can drill down to where mold will be hiding, and if it is something that is impacting your health.  

Mold is actually a common irritant of the lungs and can cause respiratory issues as well, causing stuffy nose, a sore throat, and wheezing.  

If you want to test for mold in your apartment, there are several different kits that you can use to determine whether or not you have a mold problem.  But this is one that we have tried at our own apartments, and for not much out of pocket money, is reliable and won’t break the bank.

If you ask your manager really nice, and let them know how you have been feeling, just send them the link and more than likely they will pay for the test themselves to make sure that it isn’t going through the vents as well and have a potential to make other tenants sick. 

What Is Sick Building Syndrome?

Sick Building Syndrome is a condition that is supposedly linked to the air quality and environment inside your apartment.  

The symptoms for this syndrome range far and wide, and again, a doctor is going to have to rule everything else in your life out before saying that the cause of your health condition is due to the building you are living in. 

However, if your doctor does rule out everything else, it could be your building.  The number one thing to do if you suspect this is the case is to air our your apartment really well.   This means opening all the windows and putting fans in your apartment that is circulating and exchanging the air for at least a half an hour.  

You should do this several times a week for a couple of weeks to see if simply moving the stale air around your apartment does the trick.   

Remember that Sick Building Syndrome is something that is very subjective, doesn’t have a specific diagnosis, and is simply used to identify your apartment as a whole and its environment that is causing you health problems.  

If your apartment REALLY is causing you that much grief, talk to your landlord about moving to another apartment in the same complex, or perhaps just letting you get out of your lease. 

If you are having legitimate health concerns that you can’t pin down the source of, make sure that you are ventilating your apartment well several times each week.  Check for mold and ask your landlord what they all did to get your apartment ready when you moved in.  If there are allergens still present in the apartment from the previous tenants, then a quick professional cleaning could be the trick to reviving your apartment again. 

If your symptoms still persist, talk to your landlord first about what you are experiencing so they can check everything on their end and at last resort contact your family doctor so they can take a good look at you.

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John Boettcher

Co-Founder of Apartment School and a previous renter turned owner of many multi-family properties across the United States, with many years of experience in all aspects of the apartment, real estate, and investing world.

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