Sinus headache is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions in the US. Truthfully, experts believe that actual sinus headache is rare, but that does not stop people from receiving the diagnosis every day. So, if it is unlikely that you actually have a sinus headache, what is causing the symptoms that you think is a sinus headache? Well, it could be any number of things.

What’s Really Causing Your Sinus Headache?


The condition most commonly misdiagnosed as sinus headache is migraine. In fact, studies show that more than 80% of migraine sufferers have been misdiagnosed as having a sinus headache. How long does it take to get the true diagnosis sorted out? Nearly 40 years in some cases!

So how do you know if you really have migraines and not sinus headache? Many of the symptoms overlap, but in sinus headache, you should look for fever, thick nasal discharge, and changes in your sense of smell. If you do not have those symptoms, you should suspect migraine.


Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ or sometimes TMD) can cause migraines, but it can also be mistaken for a sinus headache. For many people, the pain from TMJ is not in the joint, but in the muscles, and these muscles extend up to the nasal region. People with TMJ often experience facial pain that includes the sinus region and tension headaches that can also impact the sinus region.

So how do you know if TMJ is the true cause of your symptoms? First, if symptoms seem worse after heavy jaw activity, it is more likely that you have TMJ. Second, check for other TMJ symptoms. If you have them, then it is likely you have TMJ.


Allergies can sometimes masquerade as a sinus headache. The symptoms are fairly similar because your body is responding to what it perceives as an infection.

So how do you tell the difference? Allergies are your body responding to certain stimuli, such as dust or pollen, so your allergy headaches should be pretty predictable. It is that time of year, or maybe you are going to a specific place where you always run into allergens.

Weather Headaches

As much as you might think you are allergic to winter, the chances are that what you are really experiencing are weather-related headaches. These headaches are triggered when the weather undergoes a sudden change, or the conditions get extreme. Pressure changes, for example, can trigger headaches, as can temperature changes.

Perhaps the strangest weather connection with headaches is lightning strikes. If you have lightning strikes in your area and then you develop a headache, it is quite likely that this is the cause for your headaches.

Let Us Give You a True Diagnosis or Referral

No matter what kind of headache you have, it cannot be treated until it is been properly diagnosed. You do not have to wait 20 or 40 years to get the correct diagnosis for your headache in St. Louis. Please call (314) 678-7876 (Downtown St. Louis) or (314) 678-7876 (Clayton) today for an appointment with TMJ dentist Dr. Chris Hill at City Smiles in St. Louis.