Sinusitis Awareness Survey May 2011

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1 Page 1 of 5 Sinusitis Awareness Survey May 2011 Playing Doctor and Paying a Price: Sinusitis Sufferers Often Misdiagnose Themselves, Confusing Symptoms with Allergies For 35 million Americans with nasal allergies, the spring season is a time of year when sneezes and headaches tend to take over. Most assume they are dealing with allergies, when they could, in fact, have a more serious condition called sinusitis, a persistent sinus inflammation caused by a bacterial or viral infection, or an allergic reaction. A new study 1 by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America among more than 600 patients from its asthma and allergy database finds a significant percentage of those surveyed who are suffering from allergy symptoms are skipping a visit to their 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. 1) DIAGNOSIS DILEMMA Professional Help. Although more than two-thirds (70%) of sinusitis sufferers responding to the survey say they trust a primary care physician (PCP) most to correctly diagnose symptoms of allergies, cold and flu, or sinus infections, only about one-third (36%) usually go to a PCP for this reason. Who Typically Diagnoses You When You Think You Might Have Symptoms of Allergies, a Cold & Flu or Sinusitis? Whom Do You Trust to Correctly Diagnose You When You Have Symptoms of Allergies, a Cold & Flu or Sinusitis? Please Choose All That Apply. Myself A Primary Care Physician An Allergist An Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor My Significant Other A Friend or Family Member Other 3% 1% 4% 0% 4% 1% 3% 13% 20% 47% 41% 36% 70% 39% Who Actually Diagnoses Who They Trust to Correctly Diagnose 1 Online survey of 621 Americans who suffer from sinusitis and have symptoms of allergies, cold or flu, or sinusitis at least twice a year

2 AAFA Sinusitis Awareness Survey May 2011 Page 2 of 5 Not Going There. Similarly, patients in the survey report they trust allergists (39%) and ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists (20%) to properly diagnose them, yet few (13% and 3%, respectively) are typically diagnosed by these medical professionals. I Can Do It! Instead, the people diagnosing these patients are largely the patients themselves. Almost half (47%) of the respondents with sinusitis admit they typically self-diagnose when they have symptoms of allergies, cold or flu, or sinus infections. House Call. Playing doctor instead of visiting one has become a more common occurrence for these patients. Among those respondent who have ever self-diagnosed, over one-third (37%) are doing so more often now than they were five years ago. Do You Diagnose Yourself with Allergies, a Cold and Flu, or Sinusitis More Often, Less Often, or About as Often Now as You Did Five Years Ago?* About as Often 43% More Often 37% Less Often 20% *Among Respondents Who Have Ever Diagnosed Themselves with Allergies, Cold and Flu, or Sinusitis Self-Doubt. Despite their regular practice of self-diagnosis, only 41 percent of sinusitis sufferers responding in the survey actually trust themselves to properly diagnosis symptoms of the common cold or flu, allergies or sinus infections. Try Again. 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, over half (51%) of those with an inaccurate self-diagnosis thought that they had allergies when they were actually suffering from a sinus infection. Which is Which? Perhaps so many are incorrectly assessing themselves because more than onethird (39%) think it s difficult to differentiate between symptoms of cold and flu, allergies and sinusitis. Still, nearly half (41%) of those who think it s not easy to tell these signs of sickness apart typically only rely on a self-diagnosis when they have these symptoms. A Sickly Mix. In addition to having sinusitis, an overwhelming majority (94%) have suffered from allergies.

3 AAFA Sinusitis Awareness Survey May 2011 Page 3 of 5 Not What They Think. In fact, many mistake common sinusitis symptoms for signs of a common cold or flu, such as a headache (77%), reduced sense of smell or taste (50%), difficulty breathing (45%), pain or pressure in the face (26%), bad breath (15%) and tooth pain (7%). It s Not That Either. Similarly, some patients reported incorrectly that certain symptoms associated with sinus infections are those of allergies, including difficulty breathing (45%), fatigue (35%), reduced sense of smell or taste (29%), pain or pressure in the face (25%), yellow or green nose discharge (12%), bad breath (9%) and tooth pain (7%). Clean Out the Medicine Cabinet. Even those who might be able to correctly diagnose themselves with sinusitis could be treating the condition incorrectly. Many patient respondents have only used short-term remedies for sinusitis that are, alone, not considered appropriate optimal long-term treatment for sinus infections, such as sinus rinses (60%), over-the-counter pain medicines (60%), nasal sprays (58%), over-the-counter pseudoephedrine (50%) or antihistamines (43%). Skipping Appropriate Help. Far fewer have relied on sinus surgery (11%), a long-term treatment option for certain patients with chronic sinusitis. What s more, just over one in four (26%) survey respondents who have heard of chronic sinusitis are aware that a minimally invasive treatment option exists for the condition. 2) THE LIFE OF A SINUSITIS SUFFERER Keep on Coming. Nearly two-thirds (59%) of respondents report suffering from sinusitis at least twice during the average year, and over one-third (37%) deal with this condition three or more times per year. Unpleasantville. Nearly one in four (23%) survey respondents say sinusitis has more of a negative impact on the quality of their lives than the flu, allergies or a cold. At a Standstill. It s no wonder that so many look down on sinusitis. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of survey respondents say sinusitis keeps them from leaving their home for at least an entire day. In fact, on average they stay home for up to three days in a row when they have sinus infections. Maybe Next Time. What follows, then, according to survey respondents, is that sinusitis has caused many to miss out on quality moments in their personal lives, such as hanging out with friends or family (63%), being intimate with their significant others (57%) or attending social events (52%).

4 AAFA Sinusitis Awareness Survey May 2011 Page 4 of 5 Which of the Following, if any, Have Ever Happened to You Due to Suffering from Sinusitis? Please Choose All That Apply. Missed at Least One Day of Work Kept Me from Leaving My Home for at Least 24 Hours Kept Me from Spending Time with Friends or Family Kept Me from Being Intimate with a Significant Other Kept Me from Attending a Social Event 68% 65% 63% 57% 52% Caused Me to Make a Mistake at Work Kept Me from Traveling 42% 39% None of These 9% Sick Days. Sinusitis also cramps the professional lives of sufferers, such as making them skip work (68%) or causing mistakes while on the clock (42%). 3) SOMETHING MORE SERIOUS Dealing with the Unknown. Close to one in four (23%) respondents typically experience this condition more than three times a year, which is a clear indication of chronic sinusitis. Yet nearly onehalf (48%) of sinusitis sufferers have not been told about chronic sinusitis by a medical professional. Has a Medical Professional, Such as Your Primary Care Physician or Allergist, Ever Talked with You About Chronic Sinusitis? No 48% Yes 52% What is it, Anyway? Still, even for those who say they are aware of chronic sinusitis (79%), the actual definition is blurry for one in five (20%) of them. They don t know that chronic sinusitis is a persistent sinus inflammation caused by a bacterial or viral infection, or an allergic reaction. Ninety percent of those who visit a doctor three or more times a year for their sinus infections are aware of chronic sinusitis, compared to 75 percent who see their doctor less often.

5 AAFA Sinusitis Awareness Survey May 2011 Page 5 of 5 Longer Than They Think. More than half (55%) of survey respondents who have heard of chronic sinusitis underestimate the minimum number of weeks this condition lasts, and another 39 percent have no idea. Not Their Specialty. What s more, nearly half (49%) of sinusitis sufferers have never seen an ENT about their sinus infections. Those who have done so average visiting this specialist once a year about their condition. Over four in five (83%) who have talked to an ENT about their sinusitis have heard of chronic sinusitis, vs. 75 percent of those who have not visited this type of specialist. About the Survey. The AAFA survey, which was supported by funding from Acclarent, Inc., was conducted by Kelton Research between April 15 th and 29 th, 2011 using an invitation to AAFA s constituent database and an online survey. Each respondent reported suffering from sinusitis and experiencing symptoms of cold or flu, allergies or sinusitis at least twice in an average year. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. In this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 3.9 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.

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