Allergies or Chronic Sinusitis? Atlanta Allergy Doctors
Are you suffering from a stuffy nose, sinus pain, fatigue and a reduced sense of smell and taste? Check the pollen count and see that it’s off the charts. Is this the sign of another bad allergy season?
Maybe not. These are the classic symptoms of a sinus infection, not allergies, but most allergy patients can’t tell the difference. According to a survey from 2011 by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
The foundation surveyed more than 600 asthma and allergy patients and found that about 50 percent self-diagnosed their symptoms as allergies, when in fact they has a sinus infection or sinusitis.
Seventy percent of the patients who participated in the survey would gladly trust a primary care physician to correctly diagnose allergies or sinusitis, only about 36 percent said they actually consulted a doctor when they suffered from these symptoms.
People often diagnose themselves based on what they read online, but our allergists frequently see patients who are convinced they have allergies, when they actually have a sinus infection.
Often, patients with headaches, facial pain and fatigue think they are suffering from seasonal allergies and migraines, but allergy medications don’t reduce their symptoms. Many have such severe pain and pressure around their eyes that they become sensitive to light and have difficulty sleeping.
Until these patients see an allergist and get properly diagnosed, they may be doomed to continue with the symptoms. Once properly diagnosed and treated, doctors can frequently reduce or eliminate the symptoms quickly with the right medication.
Some people with chronic sinus infections (who treat them as allergies) don’t know they are supposed to be able to breathe out both sides of their nose. They may think it’s normal or not treatable until they see a doctor.
Allergy or Sinus Infection: how to tell?
Approximately 7 million Americans suffer from chronic sinus infections, and about 35 million suffer from nasal allergies, but most cannot tell the difference between the two conditions. Here is a comparison of symptoms to help you decide which you may have.
The Common Cold
Colds and allergies have very similar symptoms, but the defining difference is the length. If your congestion and difficulty breathing last longer than 7 to 10 days, it’s probably not a cold. It may be an allergy and should be treated with an antihistamine and not a decongestant.
Sinus congestion accompanied by itchy or watery eyes and lasts several weeks, it’s probably allergies. The challenge is that many patients will treat their allergies like a cold with other the counter decongestants. That will work short-term. Their allergy might be due to an environmental trigger (like feather pillow or dust mites) that could be easily eliminated.
Sinusitis or Chronic Sinusitis
The liter or more of mucus created every day by your body backs up in the sinuses causing inflammation, causing headaches, pressure, facial pain and chronic fatigue.
If your head is packed with mucus, that can lead to severe fatigue and irritability. Facial tenderness, headache behind the eyes and forehead, loss of taste or smell and fatigue, pressure or pain, you may have sinusitis.
Experience these symptoms three or more times per year, you probably have chronic sinusitis and should consult with your primary care doctor or an allergist.
Surprisingly, you can have sinusitis without a stuffy or runny nose or difficulty breathing, simply because the congestion caused by the mucus is further back in the sinuses.
If you suffer from any of these symptoms and they don’t disappear within about a week, you should consider seeing a physician. At Allergy & Asthma Consultants, we have 3 experienced allergists serving patients at five Atlanta area offices. We offer evening hours and same day appointments. Call 404.255.9286 to book an appointment today.
Sinuses Bothering You? Set an Appointment Today
Our Board Certified Physicians are available at five local Atlanta area offices, including Atlanta, Cumming, Duluth, Lilburn and Roswell. We offer same day appointments and convenient evening hours. Call 404.255.9286 today to schedule your visit and start feeling better quickly. Or use our convenient online scheduling page to get started.