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Playing Doctor and Paying a Price?

A new survey released by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) finds that a significant percentage of patients suffering from allergy symptoms are skipping a visit to the doctor and diagnosing themselves even when severe symptoms appear.

As a result, patients surveyed are often confusing sinus infection symptoms with allergy symptoms, and not getting optimal care for their condition. What’s more, a quarter of these folks are experiencing more than three sinus infections a year and actually may be suffering from chronic sinusitis, an often misdiagnosed condition which afflicts more than 7 million Americans. Interesting findings from the survey (www.aafa.org/sinusitis) showed that:

Self-Diagnosing Often Leads to Misdiagnosing

  • 70% of sinusitis sufferers trust a primary care physician (PCP) to correctly diagnose symptoms of allergies, cold and flu, or sinus infections, while only 36% usually go to a PCP to get diagnosed
  • 47% admit to self-diagnosing when they have sinusitis symptoms
  • 41% of those who think it’s not easy to tell the differences apart typically diagnose themselves when they have symptoms
  • 51% have misdiagnosed themselves as having allergies when it actually turned out to be sinusitis

It Could be Chronic Sinusitis

  • 23% have sinusitis more than 3 times a year, which means that they may actually have chronic sinusitis
  • 55% who have heard of chronic sinusitis underestimate the minimum number of weeks this condition lasts, and another 39 percent have no idea
  • 48% have not been told about chronic sinusitis by a medical professional

Rather than suffering from an endless cycle of persistent symptoms this allergy season, AAFA encourages patients to visit a specialist physician -- like an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor -- to discuss available treatment options.

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© Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
www.aafa.org 1-800-7-ASTHMA