Why Do I Have Sinus Headaches?

Why Do I Have Sinus Headaches?
Posted on 04/17/2018
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You can always tell when one is coming on. Your head begins to throb. You start feeling exhausted. Your face feels like it’s going to explode from the pressure. Sinus headaches are certainly no joke and are a very real plight for many Americans. However, what you may think are the worst sinus headaches in the world may actually be caused by other problems that put pressure on your nose, cheeks and eyes. In fact, various studies, including a 2007 study titled “Sinus, Allergy and Migraine Study,” confirm that nearly all self- or misdiagnosed sinus headaches are actually caused by other medical conditions, and that true sinus headaches are rare.


If you’re no stranger to facial pressure and throbbing pain, you may just assume your symptoms are a result of a sinus infection, which is the most common cause of true sinus headaches. You may even have been diagnosed with sinus headaches by a professional. While medical opinions are more reliable than playing Google doctor, in the case of sinus headaches, misdiagnoses are rampant. More often than not, those same symptoms may be the result of undiagnosed migraines masquerading as sinus headaches. In the previously mentioned 2007 study, 86 percent of participants who thought they had sinus headaches actually had undiagnosed migraines.1 How, then, do you know if you’re wrought with one or the other? In truth, migraines and sinusitis (sinus infection) share many symptoms, making it difficult to get an accurate diagnosis, even with a trained medical professional’s expertise. However, by looking at the most telltale signs of infection and migraines, you should be able to come to a more accurate conclusion. Keep these symptoms in mind when diagnosing your headaches:


  • Thick, yellow or green nasal discharge
  • Changes to sense of smell
  • Fever
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Nausea


Do you feel headache symptoms when you’re around cats and dogs? Perhaps you can tell when spring and fall are on the way thanks to the pressure in your sinuses. You may even experience symptoms when cleaning the house or mowing the lawn. If you can almost always predict when you’ll have a flare-up, your sinus headaches may actually be caused by allergies rather than sinusitis. In this case, you can find easier ways to manage your symptoms by meeting with an allergist or your primary care physician. With the right medication or treatment, you can reduce the severity of your body’s reactions, calming your headaches in turn.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

Your pain and tension may not be coming from your sinuses at all. Your face consists of numerous muscle groups that control various aspects of your face, from your ears to your nose. When these muscles cramp or get worn out and sore, you may end up experiencing sinus headache-like symptoms. This most often occurs in patients who have temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ or TMD). TMD is often caused by a genetic deformation in the jaw hinge, arthritis or injury, but is typically characterized by pain in the jaw or ear area while using the jaw to chew, talk, yawn or complete some other activity. Those with TMD may even hear a sharp, painful clicking or grinding sound as they move their jaw. If your headaches usually correspond with periods of heavy jaw activity like eating or speaking or you often have one upon waking up after grinding your teeth in your sleep, you may have TMD instead of sinusitis.

General Dentistry Services in St. Louis, MO

If your sinus headaches are giving you grief, it may be beneficial to see various specialists who may be able to track down the cause of your pain. Visiting a dental professional to diagnose any issues you’re having, whether tooth pain, sinus headaches or TMD symptoms, can help you narrow down possible conditions and will allow you to stay abreast of your oral health. If you’re searching for a dental office in the St. Louis area that provides compassionate service and a relaxing, spa-like atmosphere, Ballas Dental Care has you covered. From regular dental cleanings to TMD treatments, we can address any oral health concerns you may have. Contact us online or call (314) 432-5544 to schedule your appointment today!

1. http://www.nnadoc.com/pdf/The%20Sinus%20Headache%20Myth.pdf