It is that time of year where the leaves change and the air gets cooler. People dig their sweaters from the back of the closet and clutch pumpkin spice lattes as they go about their day. For many people in Spokane, it is a great time of year, but for some fall marks a beginning of pain and discomfort as they deal with allergies and sinus headaches. Sinus headaches can be caused by either a sinus infection or by temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), and getting the right treatment depends on knowing the cause.  How can you know if what you are experiencing is a result of sinusitis or TMJ?

Dare to Compare

By comparing your symptoms, you should be able to distinguish between sinusitis and TMJ. The main symptoms to look for are:

  • Facial pain and pressure
  • Facial congestion
  • Nasal obstruction
  • Thick and discolored discharge
  • Changes in taste or smell

You may also experience secondary symptoms like fatigue, bad breath, fever, tooth pain, coughing, and, of course, headache. In sinusitis, if you tap your sinuses, you’ll be “rewarded” with an increase in pain.

On the other hand, TMJ likely has other symptoms that might be associated with your headache, such as:

  • Pain when you touch the joint
  • Pain when moving the joint
  • Popping, clicking, or grinding in the joint

Secondary symptoms may overlap with sinusitis, including tooth pain, ear stuffiness, and, of course, headache.

Get the Right Treatment

If you think you might have sinusitis, talk to a doctor right away to get treatment. Since sinusitis is often a bacterial infection, antibiotics can help clear it up more quickly.

TMJ, on the other hand, won’t respond to antibiotics. There are no medications that treat TMJ, and the use of painkillers to alleviate discomfort simply masks a problem that grows worse with time. If your facial pain persists or worsens and your doctor can’t help, perhaps a TMJ dentist has the answer. Please call (509) 532-1111 for an appointment with a TMJ dentist at Collins Dentistry & Aesthetics.