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Eyelid twitching / twitching
Involuntary eye twitching is in most cases a harmless symptom, which is perceived by those affected as extremely annoying, especially since the eyelid twitching can last for days. Fatigue and psychological stress are the most common triggers of the symptoms, but in rare cases there is a serious physical cause behind the eye twitching. A medical examination is therefore recommended for long-lasting eyelid twitching and / or in the event of severe impairment of the patient due to the involuntary eyelid twitching.
The symptoms of involuntary eyelid twitching are to be distinguished from the normal movement of the eyelid (blinking), which serves to moisturize and clean the eye and is usually also not consciously controlled. When the eyelid twitching, there is no complete blinking, but the eyelid begins to tremble or twitch in an uncontrolled manner. The cause are so-called fasciculations, involuntary muscle twitches, which are also called benign fasciculations in the area of the eyelid, since the complaints are mostly benign (benign) in character. In a broader sense, tick-like twitching of the eyelids, which includes a complete blink of the eye - i.e. the compression of the upper and lower eyelids - is also to be attributed to the eye twitching.
Symptoms and causes
Usually the twitching of the eyes describes a movement of the eyelid muscles that is hardly visible from the outside, which is perceived by those affected much more clearly than it actually is. Only minimal twitching of the eyelids can be observed in these cases if you look closely. The symptoms are often concentrated on one lid. Fatigue, massive stress and other psychological stress are known as potential causes here. Working on the computer for long periods of time or staring at the monitor is also associated with twitching of the eyes, although the symptoms are probably due to the signs of fatigue in the eye.
Impairments in the mineral balance can also cause muscle twitching in the eyelid. Magnesium deficiency is an example. This not only leads to conspicuous complaints such as calf cramps, headache, back pain or the falling asleep of the hands and feet, but can also cause fasciculations in a wide variety of muscles or muscle groups. A deficiency in magnesium is also associated with heart problems (for example, palpitations) and an increased risk of heart diseases and even a heart attack. If there is suspicion of a magnesium deficiency in view of the symptoms, a medical examination is urgently recommended.
More pronounced involuntary movements of the eyelids can also occur in the context of a so-called tic disorder (also called tick disorder). Here, for example, those affected pinch their eyelids conspicuously, blinking or winking with one eye. Little is known about the causes of the possible motor and vocal tic disorders. More complex forms can be observed, for example, in the context of Tourette's syndrome, which can include not only uncontrolled movements, but also uncontrollable vocalizations up to whole sentences.
Another possible cause of involuntary eyelid twitching is neurological causes, such as compression of the supplying nerves or even brain disease. The eyelid is supplied by the facial nerve, the facial nerve or facial nerve. Narrowing of the nerve pathways due to changes in the blood vessels at the exit of the nerve in the brain can also interfere with the transmission of stimuli in the nerve, favor increased non-controllable nerve discharges of the facial nerve and thus trigger the eyelid twitching. This rare clinical picture is known as facial hemispasm. If there is structural damage to the brain, the wrong signals may be sent to the nerves for this reason, which can also manifest itself in the form of the eyelid twitching. In some rare neurological diseases, the signal transmission of the nerves is so impaired that the muscles of the eyelids receive incorrect signals for this reason. If the symptoms persist over a longer period of time, occur repeatedly and / or accompanying symptoms can be observed, medical help should therefore be called for urgently.
Shrugging eyes after diving with an oxygen cylinder can appear as an early symptom of the so-called Paul Bert effect, which is caused by breathing in a breathing gas mixture with high oxygen partial pressure. This causes poisoning of the central nervous system, which in addition to eyelid twitching also causes an accelerated heart rate, dizziness, headache, nausea, ringing in the ears and visual disturbances. In the further course, severe muscle spasms show up on the entire body and the affected person may lose consciousness. When the oxygen partial pressure in the breathing gas mixture is normalized, the symptoms usually subside relatively quickly.
In the case of a medical checkup, the patient is first intensively questioned about the symptoms that occur, their intensity and possible accompanying symptoms. A subsequent blood test can provide information about possible deficiency conditions, such as a magnesium deficiency. For further examinations, it is advisable to consult a specialist (neurologist) in order to rule out more serious diseases as the cause of the eye twitching. Modern imaging methods such as a special magnetic resonance tomography are used here to determine existing impairments of the nervous system or, in particular, to demonstrate a facial hemispasm. If it is not possible to determine the physical causes of the complaints, a psychotherapeutic examination may help and show connections with stress or internal tension.
Treatment is often relatively difficult with benign fasciculations of the eyelid, since no specific physical cause of the complaints can be determined and then remedied. Due to the connection with psychological stress, psychotherapy can often be used to achieve significant relief or even a complete resolution of the symptoms with the involuntary twitching of the eyes. Here, learning techniques for avoiding or coping with stress (e.g. autogenic training) is often part of the therapy. In the case of twitching eyes in the form of a tic disorder, so-called behavioral therapy is often used successfully.
A magnesium deficiency and other deficiency states can usually be remedied by changing the diet, but in an emergency, higher-dose preparations are also available from the pharmacy. If a neurological disease is identified as the cause of the symptoms, various medicines can be used to relieve the twitching of the eyelids. Here, for example, botulinum toxin injections (botox injections) are also used to paralyze the supplying nerve and thus prevent eye twitching. If a disease in the brain or a facial hemispasm is the cause of the twitching eyelid, surgery remains the last option for treatment.
Herbal medicine and homeopathy offer various remedies for inner restlessness, nervousness and tension, which can have an extremely positive effect in the case of involuntary eye twitching in the form of benign fasciculations. Worth mentioning are, for example, passion flowers, hops and valerian from the field of medicinal plants, as well as Agaricus Muscarius and Kalium phosphoricum from the field of homeopathy. Experienced therapists should, however, reserve the means to be used and an in-depth medical examination is required to rule out physical causes of the eye twitching. (fp)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Editor Heilpraxis.de, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch
- NHS: www.nhs.uk (accessed: August 12, 2019), Twitching eyes and muscles
- Falk G. Bechara; Johannes Schmidt; Klaus Hoffmann; Peter Altmeyer: Pathological sweating: A guide for those affected and their relatives (advice & help), Kohlhammer Verlag, 2009
- Dominik Maurer: Hyperbaric Oxygenation and Diving Medicine: Introduction to History, Physics, Mode of Action and Application, Springer, 2016