What do throat clearing, repeated eye blinking, sniffing and a reflexive head movement have in common?
Individually each of these symptoms have many possible causes and each needs to be assess and identified as discussed in the lists below; but collectively, in the same child they present a very different picture. So when should you be concerned about childhood tics and is there any natural treatments that may help?
By Caren Wigmore ND.
As a Naturopath if I hear a child has repeated throat clearing in isolation the first things that pops into my head are food intolerance, congested sinuses possibly reflux (lest likely)
Eye blinking? I’d be asking “when was the last time you had your kids had their eyes checked?”, are they in air conditioning a lot, swimming often and exposed to chlorinated water causing eye irritation, are their glands responsible for moisturizing the eyes blocked or working effectively – your optometrist can assess this.
Sniffing?: could be a food allergy or environmental allergy, could be caused by mould exposure, could be a suppressed immune system rendering repeated infections which leads me to assess iron and other immune makers. I will always ask lots of question to help me ascertain which is the most likely explanation and help guide what further investigations may be needed to eliminate the long list of possible causes.
But collectively these childhood tics show a very different picture.
An 11yr old boy presented with a history of throat clearing, and newly developed repeated eye blinking. Having been to the optometrist as the first point of call he was prescribed glasses, but it made no difference to his repeated blinking. On eliminating any allergies or food intolerances (the usual suspects of diary/ wheat/ dust mites/pollens) and in conjunction with his GP ascertaining that general pathology was within range we started to consider mould as a possible trigger as his room had been affected by storm damage. This came up with no findings: over 6 months he went on to develop repeated sniffing despite not feeling congested: and within a month of the nasal symptom he began with a head tick. Determining progressive childhood tics, the GP referred him to a Paediatric Neurologist with a 9-month waitlist. As Tourette development can sit on the same trajectory the mum did not want to do nothing in that 9 month wait.
Have eliminated all other possible causes and knowing this child was on a waitlist I looked deeper into the research of childhood tics and came across some very interesting research using amino acids and nutrients.
We have had some super success after just one month:
- mum reported the head tic had gone from 30x per day to 0-1x per day
- the sniffing from constantly to only at the end of the day when more fatigued
- eye twitch: still present …. watch this space
Note how the improvements followed the order in which they developed: something we see a lot in clinic.
He was and is otherwise a happy, healthy, and engaged student who enjoys going to school: but the nervous system was starting to give us clues that it needed further nutritional support.
If you know of someone or perhaps have some of these symptoms yourself why not make an appointment with Caren today and we can try and get to the bottom of your symptoms.
We offer Naturopathy and Nutritional Medicine consultations
at 2 convenient locations, Brisbane CBD and Graceville