Motor Tics in Kids

Eye blinking or eye jerking quickly, tongue sticking out, head jerk or twitches, muscle spasm, hopping and squating, shoulder shrugs…… Do you find any of these symptoms in your child?? This may be motor tics. Tics are muscle movements that are usually fast and repetitive. Tics are a bit common in childhood and affect about 10% of kids during their early school years (5 years). This may cause sudden and uncontrollable body sounds. Sometimes, kids with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) may also have these symptoms. Read more to know foods that can help with Motor tics.

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What are motor tics or muscle spasms?

Motor tics are unintentional muscle movements caused by spasm like contraction which usually involves muscles of the face, eyes, mouth, neck, head and even shoulders.

Tics may look like intentionally done, but they are not. Although a person or a child suppresses the tics for a short time, tics and sound repeat and the urge will become stronger.

How to know whether your child has muscle spasm?

Motor tics may be a normal or complex. If it’s normal, only one muscle or body part is involved which causes no harm. But, it may be painful or embarrassing at that moment.

The common symptoms of normal or simple motor tics include:

  • Eye blinking or eye jerking quickly
  • Tongue sticking out
  • Head jerk or twitches
  • Muscle spasm
  • Hopping and squatting
  • Shoulder shrugs

Whereas, a combination of different types of simple motor tics affects different muscle groups at a time, and is called complex motor tics. These are usually slower and it seems the person is doing movements intentionally.

The common symptoms of complex motor tics or muscle spasms include:

  • Pouting of face
  • Repeatedly touching people or things
  • Revolving movement of hands

Similar to motor tics, vocal tics also may occur either simple or complex. 

Simple vocal tics include,

  • Noisy breathing
  • Hissing and barking
  • Snorting
  • Smelling
  • Clearing the throat.

Complex vocal tics include,

  • Words
  • Phrases
  • Sentences
ADHD and muscle spasms:

ADHD is a disorder which is very complex and it involves different effects and symptoms. It does not directly cause the motor tics but children with ADHD can sometimes get co-occurrence of motor tics.

ADHD: Multiple disorders

Children who have ADHD can have multiple disorders at the same time. Researchers found that  about 50-70% of the children with ADHD have motor tics.

There are some disorders involving muscle spasm or muscle cramps which occur in association with ADHD:

  1. Tourette syndrome (TS): People with TS sometimes experience ADHD symptoms. This could be near 90%. Some of the studies also show that, for children with TS, the tics tend to reduce in their teenage years.
  2. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD):  Researchers have found that people whose OCD symptoms include aggressive compulsions and symmetry behaviours most commonly have tics.
  3. Autism spectrum conditions. Some of the symptoms associated with autism are body, face, and voice tics. Most of the children with ADHD have autism.

What can you do about motor tics (also with ADHD)?

  1. Improving sleep life: When in fatigue, tics may get worse. Getting proper sleep may improve the condition. This may be difficult for ADHD kids as sleep issues are very common with them.
  2. Reduce stress and anxiety: Anxiety and stress may worsen the condition of tics. In this case, tics may act as a result of stress and anxiety. Regularly doing meditation, yoga and physical activity may improve the situation.
  3. Educate the circle: It’s always good to inform the teachers, caretakers, peers and coaches about the condition your kid is suffering through. This will create a supportive environment for the kid.
Foods to avoid: 
Refined sugar:

Excessive sugar impairs cognitive skills as well as self control. Moreover, sugar damages the protein in our body, resulting in ageing of organs, which further compromises immunity, growth and functioning. Greatest source of sugar in the average kid’s diet are sugary snacks and beverages like cookies, cakes, candies, fruit juice, soda, and sports drinks. Everything that the child picks up to eat today has strains of added sugar in some form or the other.

Preservatives:

Most of packaged food companies are adding artificial preservatives to delay spoilage and contamination in foods.  Artificial preservatives such as nitrates, benzoates, sulfites, sorbates, parabens, formaldehyde, BHT, BHA and several others can cause serious health hazards such as hypersensitivity, allergy, asthma, hyperactivity, neurological damage and muscle spasms.

Refined oil:

The high temperature involved in the refining process removes all the natural and beneficial substances from the oil, which is not good for the digestive as well as respiratory health and ultimately affects your immunity.

Foods to manage motor and vocal tics in children:
1. BRAHMI:

Brahmi is a brain superfood that is thought to sharpen the brain by protecting cells and increasing chemicals involved in learning and memory. It can improve mental performance by influencing neurotransmission through acetylcholine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Brahmi improves memory, reduces anxiety, helps to improve motor tics, and promotes attention by restoring brain receptor function. (Drinks good for brain health)

2. ASHWAGANDHA:

This herb functions as an adaptogen. Ashwagandha has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress, which leads to better brain performance. Furthermore, it raises acetylcholine levels, which aid in memory, mental focus, and intelligence. Ashwagandha also improves nerve cell communication and stimulates the body’s ability to heal any nervous system damage. It is also helpful for the treatment of motor tics and headache without any adverse side effects.

3. SHANKHAPUSHPI:

In order to improve brain functioning, shankhapushpi is an old remedy. The powerful antioxidants and flavonoids present in it improve the memory capacity, focus, concentration, calmness, alertness of an individual. Since it is a brain tonic and stimulator, people taking shankhapushpi have improved memory, reasoning, problem-solving, and other cognitive abilities.

4. NUTS

All the nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashew, peanuts and hazelnuts are rich in vitamin E and help in boosting memory. They are also antioxidants which protect against cell damage. Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and are a valuable substance for brain function, memory and thinking abilities. This fatty acid also encourages cognitive functions. (best nuts for protein)

5. SEEDS

Apart from nuts, seeds like flex, chia, melon, sesame and pumpkins also contain powerful antioxidants like vitamin E that protect the brain from free radical damage. Sunflower seeds impact overall mood and mental processing powers and therefore it is considered a brain boosting snack. Pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium, copper, and much higher in zinc than other seeds, which help in increasing concentration and memory. One of the easiest to feed brain boosting foods for kids.

6. OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS

Multiple studies have shown the link between low omega 3 fatty acids and speech delay, poor focus and concentration. These healthy fats are crucial for brain development and help to manage speech disorder and delay in kids. It can also improve speech quality. Include fish like salmon, flaxseeds, walnuts, soybeans and tofu for adequate supply of omega -3 fatty acids.  (10 reasons to give kids with omega 3 foods)

7. VITAMIN E

Vitamin E acts as antioxidants and kills free radicals which can damage our nerves resulting in speech problems. Including more fruits, vegetables, nuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds in the child’s diet will help.

8.MAGNESIUM, MANGANESE & ZINC:

Magnesium is abundant in nuts such as almonds, peanuts, cashews, and pumpkin seeds. They are also antioxidants which protect against cell damage. Manganese is an important nutrient for seizure patients because it plays an important role in cerebral functions. This mineral is abundant in nuts, whole grains, and legumes. Furthermore, a person with muscle spasm requires zinc for proper muscle repair. It is critical to include meat, eggs, nuts, and legumes in your child’s diet.

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