Health & Wellbeing

It might not be allergies: How to tell if you've got chronic sinusitis

It might not be allergies: How to tell if you've got chronic sinusitis
Long-term nasal allergies might actually be chronic sinusitis
Long-term nasal allergies might actually be chronic sinusitis
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Long-term nasal allergies might actually be chronic sinusitis
Long-term nasal allergies might actually be chronic sinusitis

People who’ve been suffering from allergies for a long time without relief might actually have chronic sinusitis, which requires a different treatment, a study has found. Hoping to help people get it addressed, the researchers have provided a list of signs and symptoms to watch out for.

Many, many people suffer from allergies, otherwise known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis (AR), experiencing symptoms that include sneezing, itchy nose, runny or blocked nose, itchy, red and watery eyes, and a cough. However, a new study by researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) has found that people who’ve thought they had allergies for years, in fact, had chronic sinusitis, a condition that, while similar to allergies in many respects, requires a different treatment.

“We’ve seen in our clinical practices many instances where patients have believed that they have allergies for many years and have sought treatment for allergies for years,” said Ahmad Sedaghat, the study’s corresponding author. “They have never found relief from their sinus/nasal symptoms because all along they’ve had [chronic rhinosinusitis or] CRS, an inflammatory condition of the sinuses.”

The problem is that nasal allergies and sinusitis share overlapping symptoms, often presenting with a blocked nose or runny nose. And both can present with sinus pressure. But, despite their similarities, the two conditions have different treatments; treating sinusitis with allergy medication won’t be effective.

Of the 219 participants who took part in the study, 91.3% were diagnosed with AR, but 45.2% were also diagnosed with chronic sinusitis. About half of the patients with sinusitis reported not being treated with intranasal steroid sprays, the first-line treatment for the condition.

Based on their findings, the researchers have determined that if someone has certain characteristics and symptoms, it should raise a suspicion that they may have chronic sinusitis instead of, or in combination with, nasal allergies. The following are strongly associated with chronic sinusitis and should prompt a visit to a medical professional:

  • Being older and male.
  • Having at least a moderate severity of nasal obstruction or thick nasal discharge.
  • Any degree of decreased sense of taste and smell, even if it’s very mild.

Previous studies have shown that patients with poorly controlled chronic sinusitis have a significantly poorer quality of life, on par with conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or coronary artery disease. They also have significantly greater antibiotic and steroid usage, and asthmatics also experience worsening lung health in association with poorly controlled chronic sinusitis. These studies highlight the importance of getting proper, and early, treatment for sinusitis.
The researchers say that going forward, there should be an emphasis on education and raising awareness about chronic sinusitis.

“I hope that this study will give us the tools to raise awareness of CRS among the public, in particular the individuals at highest risk to suffer from CRS but not have it be recognized accurately,” Sedaghat said. “I’m excited to be able to find a way to empower patients to think about the possibility of CRS, and I’m excited that we were able to do it in a way that will be very easy for patients. Overall, I believe our study will save and improve a lot of quality of life for patients.”

The study was published in the journal Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery.

Source: UC

Carlo Cudio
Mr. McClure could benefit from a refresher course at journalism school. His article missed the main point .... it should have described the new treatment for CRS, at least briefly.
@Cardo Cudio, the reason the article doesn’t mention “the new treatment for CRS” is probably because the article is about misdiagnosis. There’s not even a suggestion in the article that a new treatment has been discovered or is being recommended for either allergies or chronic sinusitis.

Reading is fundamental.
Paul - decent article, well written. It is a good synopsis of the abstract. For those of moderate to low health literacy, the article did hit upon the one OTC and frequently prescribed "old treatment" for the CRS - I'll provide the quote here: "intranasal steroid sprays, the first-line treatment for the condition". It has long been our policy to treat seasonal AR with late generation antihistamines with saline sprays, when response is poor, we add intranasal steroid sprays and as a rule do not prescribe abx. If there are headache symptoms, or ear ache symptoms, referrals to specialists like Dr. Sedaghat or an ENT practice. I rarely send a patient for allergy testing, but ENT & Migraine specialists would definitely r/o the common allergies.
One may certainly have both conditions. I don't understand why it is implied that they are mutually exclusive.