It may have been your eyelid, your thumb, your jaw, or your calf that suddenly started twitching and you were like — huh?
IF you ever experienced a muscle twitch, you might have wondered why your muscle was jumping involuntarily. It may have been your eyelid, your thumb, your jaw, or your calf that suddenly started twitching and you were like — huh? Everything okay over there?
You wouldn’t be the only teen to wonder. Here’s the story behind muscle twitching.
What is Muscle Twitching?
We can consciously control many of the muscles in our body and tell them just how to move and when to contract (tighten up) — making a fist or clenching your jaw, for example. Other muscles are not in our control; your heart muscle, your digestive muscles, and other muscles work all the time, with no conscious awareness on our part.
A muscle twitch happens when a muscle that we’re used to controlling contracts on its own, moving without your command. A little weird, but usually not a reason to worry.
Why Does it Happen?
Muscle twitches can be caused by stress and anxiety. Some people have a twitch that is very clearly related to their emotions, and their friends or family members can tell how they feel when they notice that muscle jumping (also known as a “nervous tic”). Other causes for muscle twitches include too much caffeine, a poor diet (in which you may be lacking important vitamins and minerals), physical activity, or even a side effect of some medications.
What should I do if my muscles twitch?
The good news is that most twitches go away within a few minutes, or within a few days. They’re not usually something to worry about. On the other hand, rarely, some twitches may be caused by a more serious medical condition. Make an appointment with your doctor if you find that your twitches are disturbing you, or if your muscle twitches fit any of the following criteria:
Your muscle twitch doesn’t stop or go away.
Your muscle twitch is intense and severe.
There is weakness, tingling, or numbness in the same area your muscle tends to twitch.
It appears that the twitching muscle is getting smaller.
Your doctor will be able to determine if your twitches are normal or indicate a problem. If he is worried, you’ll be sent for diagnostic testing to help discover the cause of the twitching and possible solutions.
Can I avoid muscle twitching?
Getting enough sleep (teens should be aiming for eight to nine hours a night, no joke), managing stress (look up our previous column on stress relief for some great tips!), eating healthy, well-balanced meals (yes, it always seems to come back to that, doesn’t it?), and avoiding too much caffeine (do I sound like your mother?) can all help prevent muscle twitches. If you take medication, ask your doctor if it could be causing the twitching.
If none of these lifestyle changes seem to help, and you continue to find your muscle twitching bothersome, see your doctor.
DID YOU KNOW?
Muscle twitching is called muscle fasciculation.
Being dehydrated increases your chance of muscle twitching. Drink up! (Water, of course!)
(Originally featured in Teen Pages, Issue 947)
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