What Your Twitch Is Telling You

Wednesday, 24 Nov 2010 10:07 AM

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Ever felt your eyes doing embarrassing things you didn’t want them to? What you may be experiencing is an eyelid twitch. A “twitch” is the common term used for an involuntary, repetitive spasm or a contraction of the involved muscles.

During eye twitching, the eyelid may open and close involuntarily. Although puzzling, twitches occur often and affect millions of people every year. For most people, it is not a serious condition and could be the result of excessive tiredness or stress. For some, it could be the result of a more serious genetic disorder that needs to be investigated and treated.
 
An eye twitch, or “blepharospasm,” is observed when the eyelid goes into spasms or blinks involuntarily. Symptoms include excessive blinking followed by eye irritation with varied frequency.
 
Causes of eye twitching include:
 
1. Exposure to very bright lights
2. Extreme tiredness
3. Anxiety or stress
4. Hereditary reasons
5. Corneal irritation or injury
6. Inadequate sleep
7. Eye strain
8. Alcohol
9. Caffeine
10. Neurological disorders
 
Although there is no successful cure for eye twitching, there are treatments that can reduce its severity including drug therapy  and Botox injections (which paralyze the muscles of the eyelid and eliminate the spasm).

The surgical procedure used to treat eye twitches is called Myectomy which removes some of the muscles and nerves from the eyelids. This surgery has a good chance of improving symptoms. For those people who get twitches when they are stressed or anxious, there are cognitive behavior techniques such as visualization and positive affirmation, that may help. Sleep is another remedy for the eye twitch, meaning, if the spasm is caused by fatigue, adequate sleep should resolve the problem. Lubricating your eyes with eye drops helps with the irritation, and reducing the amount of caffeine that you consume can also make a difference.
It is important to consult your health care provider when:
  1. The twitching continues for more than a week
  2. You cannot open your eyelid
  3. Other parts of the face are involved
  4. There is redness, swelling, or discharge from your eye
  5. The upper eyelid is drooping
Arm twitching, like eye twitching, is usually harmless but annoying. The most common causes of arm twitches are:
 
1. Weight lifting or some such form of physical exertion. Exertion might stress the arm muscles and cause fatigue
2. Excessive caffeine consumption
3. Certain medications, for example, antibiotics
4. Vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Deficiencies in calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 can cause twitches
 
Arm twitching may also be the result of a neurological disorder, and unexplained twitches should be immediately referred to a health care provider.
 

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