Allergies or Sinusitis: Know the Difference
As the director of the Los Angeles Sinus Institute, I see hundreds of patients with chronic sinusitis each year. One of the most difficult aspects of my job is that many people wait far longer than they should to seek expert sinus care. There are several reasons for this, of course – financial concerns, scheduling conflicts – but the biggest reason by far is a simple lack of awareness. Many people believe that their sinusitis is simply allergies or a cold acting up.
I am not the only sinus physician to notice this problem. A recent article in the Los Angeles Times brings the issue into sharp relief, citing some alarming new statistics from an online poll conducted by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America:
According to respondents of the survey, nearly nine in ten (85%) patients who have misdiagnosed themselves were suffering from sinusitis when they thought it was a different condition. In fact, more than half (51%) of those with an inaccurate self-diagnosis thought that they had allergies when they were actually suffering from a sinus infection.
Perhaps so many are incorrectly assessing themselves because more than one-third (39%) think it’s difficult to differentiate between symptoms of cold and flu, allergies and sinusitis.
My patients have heard this speech from me several times, but it bears repeating: chronic sinusitis is not a cold, and it’s not allergies. The symptoms may appear similar in the short term, but over time it becomes easy to distinguish one from the next. Chronic sinusitis is so named because of its tendency to linger, and because it recurs far more often than allergies or a viral infection.
What should you look for? Symptoms that last longer than three months are an indication that you may have chronic sinusitis. And if those symptoms have a tendency to reappear several times a year, that is another red flag. One final way to diagnose sinusitis is if your ailment has not responded to allergy medication or cold remedies. Sinusitis is simply different, and it requires more aggressive treatment to avoid the risk of serious complications.
If you think you may have sinusitis, it is essential that you contact an experienced sinus doctor right away. Contact an expert ENT today to learn more about your options for dealing with this maddening problem.