Allergies or Sinusitis? Alarming New Study Shows Americans Misdiagnosing Themselves
Findings from a new survey by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA.org) released last week indicate that a large percentage of people are confusing allergy symptoms with sinus infection symptoms, and therefore, not receiving the proper medical care they need.
During the Spring months, Americans are faced with a wide variety of assaults from tree and flower pollen, mold, grass, etc. Those who suffer from nasal allergies from outdoor causes (also called “seasonal allergic rhinitis”) experience symptoms such as stuffy nose, itchy eyes and even coughing when allergens are inhaled into the nose and the lungs causing allergic reactions.
Sinusitis (sinus infection) is an inflammation of the sinuses and nasal passages. Its symptoms include a headache or pressure in the eyes, nose, cheek area, or one side of the head. You may also have a cough, a fever, bad breath, nasal congestion, nasal secretions, and you may snore at night. The confusion occurs because the symptoms are quite similar, especially when they are severe.
According to the AAFA, “As this month marks the peak of spring allergy season, it’s important that those suffering from persistent allergies get a proper diagnosis since almost half (47%) of the respondents to the AAFA survey admit to self-diagnosing when they have symptoms. But close to two in five (39%) respondents think it’s difficult to differentiate between symptoms, and, as a result, over half (51%) have misdiagnosed themselves with allergies when it actually turned out to be sinusitis.”
Here are some findings of the AAFA Study:
- 47% of respondents with sinusitis admit to self-diagnosing when they have symptoms.
- 37% are doing more self-diagnosing now than they were five years ago.
- 41% of those who say it is not easy to distinguish signs of allergies from signs of sinusitis still go ahead and diagnose themselves when they have symptoms.
- 51% admit they have misdiagnosed themselves as suffering from allergies when the cause turned out to be sinusitis.
- 39% say they think it’s hard to tell the difference between the symptoms of a cold, flu, allergies, and sinusitis.
- 55% of people who have heard of chronic sinusitis underestimate the minimum number of weeks this condition may last; 39% admit they don’t have a clue about duration.
- Only 26% of respondents who had heard of chronic sinusitis were aware that a minimally invasive treatment option exists for the condition.
- 49% of respondents have never seen an ear, nose, and throat doctor about their sinusitis.
- According to a survey of 621 people, conducted online from a database of asthma and allergy patients, about 70% of sinusitis sufferers most trust a primary care doctor to correctly diagnose symptoms, yet only 36% go to one for help
The AAFA explained that when people confuse sinusitis symptoms with signs of allergies, they often suffer longer than they would if they visited a doctor, who could make a proper diagnosis. According to WebMD, “About 7 million Americans suffer from chronic sinusitis, resulting in some 32 million cases reported by doctors and other health care providers every year.” If you are suffering from symptoms that could be either sinusitis or seasonal allergies, it’s important that you seek proper medical care to ensure it is diagnosed and treated appropriately. Depending on your doctor’s findings, he or she may refer you to an allergist or ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist for further treatment if it is felt to be chronic.
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