My daughter (aged 8), has developed facial ticks and sucking in her breath. The tics are worse when she is tired and they will vary. If something aggravates her, e.g. an ulcer, then the behaviour she used to alleviate the discomfort (holding her lip away from her gum), then turns into a tic.
To begin with I asked her questions about it, because I was concerned her allergies were causing her facial discomfort, but I now don't believe that to be the case and she doesn't want to talk about her tics so we don't. She has said they don't bother her. If someone were to ask her about it, she said she'd be quite happy to just say 'they're just habits'.
I feel that we should now ignore them and keep a mental log as parents as to anything that could aggravate them, only involving the GP if it becomes a problem for her in any way. However a friend has said I should log it with her GP now to make sure it's on her records in case it continues.
Please could you advise on the best course of action, including whether things like artificial colourings etc could have an impact?
You are describing simple motor tics. They can change, wax and wane just as you describe. Being tired is known to make them worse, as can excitement, stress and anxiety.
Most tics are mild and infrequent so don’t need any treatment. If they do become more frequent, cause distress or are associated with any emotional or physical discomfort, then that is the point when you should see the GP.
I think you sound very sensible in how you are dealing with it already. You can always see the doctor at any time should the situation change. For many people, tics start in childhood (they often run in families, so you or her father may have had them as a child too). Hopefully they will be temporary and get better as your daughter gets older, which is often the case.
There are no known causes of tics, so I would focus on a healthy balanced diet and a good bedtime routine (so she gets enough sleep) rather than worrying too much about artificial colourings.
Answered by Dr Emmajane Down.
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