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more about Tics

Habit spasms

  • Tics are muscle movements that occur repeatedly in sudden brief uncontrollable spasms.
  • Tics often involve muscles of the eye or the face.
  • The tic is identical, each time it occurs.
  • Tics are worsened by stress, and may occur less often at times of intense mental concentration.
  • "Transient tics" are the most common variety in childhood.  Their distinguishing feature is that they last less than one year.  They might last only a few weeks.
  • "Chronic tics" in children persist more than one year, and may last lifelong.
  • In Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (Tourette syndrome), a variety of chronic tic, there is a combination of tics and vocalizing of words, both of which are uncontrollable.

  • Eye blinking or squinting
  • Twitching of the eye or mouth
  • Wrinkling-up of the nose
  • Mouth twitching
  • Repetitive clearing of the throat
  • Head twitching
  • Shrugging the shoulders
  • Some tics are complex muscle movements, such as flapping the arms or pulling at the clothes.
  • In Tourette syndrome, there is frequent shouting of obscenities, repeating words, making animal-like noises, or making obscene gestures.

  • The cause of tics is unknown.
  • Tourette syndrome may be caused by a defect in chromosome # 18.

  • Observing repeated, sudden, involuntary muscle movements such as described above

  • Male sex
  • At times, tics are familial.

  • There are different theories regarding treatment of tics.  One treatment is to reduce stress in the child's life, when possible.
  • Another treatment is to pay little attention to the tic, which may disappear in the case of the transient tic.
  • Various medications have been used to control tics in childhood, including a wide variety of medications used in psychiatric and neurologic diseases.  Commonly used medications are haloperidol and clonidine.

  • The chief complication is the social teasing or ostracism that may occur when the child's tics are noticed by other children.
  • In cases of Tourette syndrome, the vocal noises that the child makes can be of concern to schoolteachers (because it is a distraction in the classroom).  This leads to discussions about appropriate school placement for the child.

  • Consult your physician if habits such as eye blinking, twitching of a corner of the mouth, shrugging of the shoulders or other habits are occurring on a regular basis.  Tics can interfere with the child's daily activities or can harm socialization with other children.

  • Focal Seizure (localized Seizure) may appear similar, but a focal Seizure is frequently followed by localized weakness and poor muscle tone in the involved muscles, which does not happen in tics.
  • Focal Seizure produces an abnormal EEG (electroencephalogram), which is a recording of the brain waves.

more about Tics

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