If you are suffering this winter season, it can be hard to pin down the cause of your affliction. There are many potential reasons why you might be suffering nonspecific symptoms, but getting relief depends on figuring out the right one. Two potential causes that are often confused are a sinus infection (sinusitis) and temporomandibular joint disorders (called TMJ or TMD). Here’s how you can evaluate your symptoms to get a better idea of the right way to relief.
handsome mature man with a sinus headache

Overlapping Symptoms

One of the reasons why these conditions get mistaken for one another is that they share many symptoms in common. Here are some of the common symptoms you might get with either condition:

  • Headaches
  • Jaw pain
  • Pressure or pain in the face
  • Toothaches
  • Pain and stiffness in the neck
  • Ear symptoms like ringing, fullness, or pain
  • Dizziness or vertigo

When you have these symptoms, you can’t tell for sure which condition is affecting you. You might think that the pain or pressure in your sinus area is conclusive to a sinus infection, but it’s really not. Jaw muscles stretch over the face, and they can cause sensations very similar to a sinus infection. Plus, the nerves that carry pain signals from the area overlap with those that serve the jaw muscles, and the brain can’t always sort out the exact source of your pain.

Even ear-related symptoms you might assume are linked to an ear infection can actually be linked to TMJ.

Symptoms That Indicate Sinus Infection

On the other hand, there are some symptoms that can help you identify a sinus infection. These symptoms are good indicators of sinusitis:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Nasal discharge (especially if it is thick and discolored)
  • Changes or loss of taste and smell
  • Sore throat
  • Upset stomach
  • Fever

These symptoms are specific to the collection of mucus in the nose, throat, and sinuses, or to the bacterial and viral infections that cause them. If you have these symptoms, then it’s likely a sinus infection that’s causing your problems.

Symptoms Linked to TMJ

There are some symptoms that are going to tell you if you likely have TMJ. If you experience these, you probably have TMJ:

  • Jaw joint soreness
  • Muscle tenderness in the head and neck but not elsewhere
  • Popping, clicking, or grinding in the jaw joint

With these symptoms, you are more likely to have TMJ than a sinus infection.

Conditions Linked to TMJ

There are also some conditions you should consider that might make you more likely to have TMJ. These conditions can either influence TMJ or be influenced by it. They include:

  • Migraines
  • Stress
  • Teeth clenching and grinding (bruxism)

People with migraines are more likely to have TMJ. Sometimes, it’s because undiagnosed TMJ is actually the cause of the migraines. Stress leads to muscle tension, which leads to TMJ. One link between stress and TMJ is bruxism, though bruxism can be linked to many other causes in addition to stress.

Do You Suspect TMJ in Wichita Falls?

If you think TMJ might be responsible for your symptoms, we can help. Please call 940-322-2252 today for an appointment with a Wichita Falls TMJ dentist at StarImage Dentistry today.