What Are the Treatments for Facial Tics?

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Doctor writing young woman a prescription (Image: undrey/iStock/Getty Images)

Blinking, twitching of the facial muscles or repetitive mouth movements all fall under the classifications of tics. Some children experience these tics as part of childhood development. The New York times reports that as many as one-quarter of all children experience facial tics. These transient tics go away on their own with time, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. However, chronic facial tics may be a sign of more serious medical problems, including Tourette's syndrome.

Relaxation

Stress can contribute to tics, so doctors advise against calling attention to tics or nagging a person about them. Tics are involuntary muscle spasms and can't be controlled by will. The New York Times reports that reducing stress in the environment can reduce tics and help them to go away altogether.

Medication

Disabling tics can sometimes be controlled with medications that block the brain's uptake of dopamine. Your doctor may prescribe risperidone or pimozide. Side effects of these drugs can include sensitivity to heat and cold, trouble swallowing and elevated blood sugar.

Surgery

The University of Michigan Reports that Deep Brain Stimulation, a surgical technique involving implanting electrodes in the brain, has shown promise in treating tic disorder in adults. Electrical current sent to these electrodes regulates brain activity and reduces ticks.

Psychotherapy

Some people can learn to control their ticks with psychotherapies such as behavior modification or a technique known as habit reversal. In habit reversal, the therapist teaches the tic sufferer to identify when a tic is about to occur to substitute another behavior for the tic. This competing response is usually less distracting and more socially acceptable than the tic. For instance, instead of rapid eye blinking, a person might focus on closing his eyes and holding them closed for a few seconds.

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