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Almost everyone feels an occasional twitch, such as when your eyelid spasms, but a twitch and a facial tic are not the same things even though the terms are often used interchangeably. Although they both involve muscle movements, twitches are usually an occasional, isolated occurrence.
Tics often involve repeated episodes. Understanding what tics are and how they can be treated is the first step in controlling the condition.
What Is A Facial Tic?
A tic is a contraction of one or more groups of muscles in the face. Tics are more common in children, but they can also occur in adults. Although tics are generally involuntary, there are instances where they can be temporarily suppressed. But suppressing the tic may cause distress and can be very difficult in many cases.
Different types of facial tics may occur in adults, including simple or complex tics. Simple facial tics involve rapid movements of only one muscle group and may include tics such as blinking the eyes or wrinkling the nose. Complex facial tics involve more than one facial muscle group. For example, facial grimacing is a complex facial tic.
Facial tics may vary in severity. They can also change. Someone who had mild facial tics can suddenly develop more severe tics. The muscle group a tic affects can also change. The frequency of the tics can also vary widely. Some people who suffer from facial tics may experience an occasional tic while others may have severe tics, which are noticeable. Although tics themselves are not dangerous, they can make someone self-conscious and suffer from decreased self esteem.
What Causes Facial Tics In Adults?
When facial tics occur independently of a medical condition, the cause is often unknown. Research does indicate facial tics seem to run in families, suggesting a genetic component. Certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies are also thought to be a possible cause of facial tics.
Tics are sometimes a symptom of a specific disorder or syndrome. For example, Tourette’s syndrome is a medical condition that causes uncontrolled facial and sometimes vocal tics. Additional conditions, including cerebral palsy and Huntington’s disease, may also cause facial tics. A head injury can lead to facial tics depending on what part of the brain was injured.
Although the cause of facial tics is not always clear, there are several factors that may exacerbate tics. For example, facial tics may occur more often if you are stressed or tired. Tension and even excitement can increase the frequency of tics in some people. Taking street drugs or prescribed medication that is considered a stimulant can also increase tics.