Tics are minute, irregular muscle contractions that affect the face, especially the eye area. They last only a fraction of a second and, although painless are annoying and often embarrassing. The precise cause is unknown, but tics are associated with stress and being upset. When people are under pressure and fatigued, their nerves are affected and may send erratic signals to the muscles, leading to the tiny spasms. These tics start suddenly and can disappear overnight usually within a year or so, but may recur under stress. In your case, the tic has become chronic because the underlying problems have not been resolved. This could be because you have ongoing stress, poor sleep patterns, panic attacks or even headaches.
I always suggest treating the condition as soon as it appears. My usual advice is to take a vitamin B complex supplement (Biocare B Complex, capsules), which is a general nerve tonic. It’s also vital to rest enough and to get good quality sleep. Insomnia, which often accompanies stressful situations, is a significant reason why the nervous system gets exhausted and run down.
I suggest that you consult your GP again since the problem seems to be getting worse. Sometimes doctors will investigate chronic twitching to see if there is any possibility of an epileptic type of abnormal activity in the brain, although I think it is extremely unlikely in your case. Other rare causes of long-term twitching all over the body include excess calcium in the blood, usually due to an abnormality of the parathyroid gland, which controls calcium levels. Sometimes nerves lose their insulation in a condition called demylination, so that nerve impulses or messages from the brain get transferred erroneously to muscle fibres, which twitch as a result (Tourette syndrome is the most severe form of multiple tic disorder).
In addition to consulting your doctor, I suggest the following treatment plan, which can do you no harm and may help the problem. It is suitable for anyone with facial tics at any stage.
- Avoid all food products that cause excitation of nerves and anxiety. The prime culprits are coffee, alcohol, excess salt, excess sugar in any form, monosodium glutamate, hot spices and chilli. Also avoid smoking and natural ‘uppers’ such as guarana. Drink Relaxation Tea, camomile or peppermint tea. Make fresh mint tea (grow a pot of mint on a sunny windowsill) and, in the summer, an infusion of fresh rose petals (not sprayed).
- Take BiocareB Complex capsules( as above), one daily for two months, to support nerve function. If you are anxious and don’t sleep very well, take Calm Down (Alive capsules), one at bedtime for one month, or Relaxation formula (tablets), one at bedtime for one month. These natural supplements help you to achieve a relaxed state of mind and sleep well, which calms the nervous system.
- Relax at bedtime by listening to a relaxation or meditation tape or CD. Alternatively, practise retention breathing (known as pranayama in yoga take a deep breath in to a count of three, hold it for a count of three to six, then exhale slowly for six. Imagine you are inhaling cold air and exhaling warm air: this helps the subconscious brain to relax. Practise this for ten minutes twice daily for a month.
- Massage your neck and shoulders with any aromatherapy oil (three drops of essential oil to one tablespoon of any carrier oil), twice a week for ten minutes. If possible, ask a partner or flat mate to do this for you.
- Massage these points on your face with your thumb or forefinger: temples, inner ends of eyebrows, outer eye bones on line from iris, front of ear just above jawbone, bottom of cheekbones parallel with nostrils, corners of lower jaw line out from lower lip, above upper lip in the centre, below lower lip in the centre.
- Complementary therapies: Homoeopathy and/or psychotherapy may be useful.