A facial tic is a repeated spasm, often involving the eyes and muscles of the face.
Causes of Facial tics
Tics most often occur in children, but may last into adulthood. Tics occur three to four times as often in boys as girls. Tics may affect as many as one-fourth of all children at some time.
The cause of tics is unknown, but stress appears to make tics worse.
Short-lived tics (transient tic disorder) are common in childhood.
A chronic motor tic disorder also exists. It may last for years. This form is very rare compared to the common short-lived childhood tic. Tourette syndrome is a separate condition in which tics are a major symptom.
Facial tics Symptoms
Tics may involve repeated, uncontrolled spasm-like muscle movements, such as:
- Eye blinking
- Mouth twitching
- Nose wrinkling
Repeated throat clearing or grunting may also be present.
Tests and Exams
The health care provider will usually diagnose a tic during a physical examination. No special tests are needed. In rare cases, an EEG may be done to look for seizures, which can be the source of tics.
Treatment of Facial tics
Short-lived childhood tics are not treated. Calling the child's attention to a tic may make it worse or cause it to continue. A non-stressful environment can make tics occur less often, and help them go away more quickly. Stress reduction programs may also be helpful.
If tics severely affect a person's life, medicines may help control them.
Simple childhood tics should go away on their own over a period of months. Chronic tics may continue for a longer period of time.
In most cases, there are no complications.
When to Contact a Health Professional
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if tics:
- Affect many muscle groups
- Are persistent
- Are severe
Prevention of Facial tics
Many cases cannot be prevented. Reducing stress may be helpful. Sometimes counseling can help your child learn how to cope with stress.
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|Review Date: 2/24/2014
Reviewed By: Joseph V. Campellone, M.D., Division of Neurology, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.