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Playing Doctor and Paying a Price?

A New Survey Finds People Are Confused Between Allergy and Sinusitis Symptoms

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A new survey finds that many Americans who self-diagnose themselves with nasal allergies or sinusitis have difficulty differentiating between symptoms of the two conditions. As a result, they may be misdiagnosing themselves and potentially experiencing a more severe form of the condition known as chronic sinusitis.

According to the survey conducted by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, a significant percentage of those experiencing symptoms are skipping a visit to their doctor and diagnosing themselves, even when their symptoms are severe. As a result, people may often be confusing sinus infection symptoms with allergy symptoms and not getting optimal care for their condition.

“The symptoms of sinusitis are similar to allergies, and sometimes allergies can lead to sinusitis, so it’s no surprise to learn that patients are confused,” says Mike Tringale, vice president of external affairs at AAFA. “However, there is a key difference between allergies and chronic sinusitis. If you have allergy-like symptoms that last longer than 12 weeks or symptoms that occur more than three times per year, with symptoms usually lasting more than 20 days despite treatment attempts, you may have chronic sinusitis and should see your doctor for a correct diagnosis and the right medical solution.”

Chronic sinusitis is one of the most common health problems in the United States. It’s important that those who have persistent allergies get a proper diagnosis since almost half of the respondents to the AAFA survey admit to self-diagnosing when they have symptoms. But close to two in five respondents think it’s difficult to differentiate between symptoms, and as a result, over half have misdiagnosed themselves with allergies when it actually turned out to be sinusitis.

It Could Be Chronic Sinusitis
Close to one in four respondents typically experience sinusitis more than three times a year, which means that they may actually have chronic sinusitis. Even those who might be able to correctly diagnose themselves with sinusitis could be treating the condition incorrectly.


For full results of the survey, go to

Source: Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America,

This article was originally published in Coping® with Allergies & Asthma magazine, Spring/Summer 2011.