Probably you have had a situation where your lips twitch uncontrollably, or you have heard your friends say that they are worried their lips are beginning to twitch. Well, this can happen, and while it may not be a cause for alarm, sometimes, it may require medical attention. A twitching lip (shaking of trembling of the lip without you trying) may be embarrassing and annoying. It can also be a sign that you could be having a bigger medical problem that needs to be investigated. The lips twitch when you have muscle spasms arising from something like drinking much coffee, they may also twitch when you have tremors that indicate an early sign of having a disorder such as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Upper lip twitching
What’s Lip Twitching?
When you talk of a lip twitch, it is a little muscle contraction occurring around your lips or mouth. Most of muscle twitches tend to be minor and are otherwise seen as normal. Twitches can be referred to as symptoms or signs of spasm-like movements occurring within muscles. They are also given the name tremors or tics. Most of the tics including those of the facial muscles are temporary and harmless, they will resolve on their own with changes in lifestyle. At times, you may experience lip twitching that is accompanied by some other symptoms. Say for example, you may have your left or right eye twitching and this is accompanied by lip trembling, especially on one side of the mouth – this could be caused by something like hemifacial spasm.1
Lip twitching or fasciculation is therefore an involuntary sudden movement involving the muscle fibers of a person’s lower, upper, or both lips. In a lip twitch, a person may feel that other people are seeing it, however, that may not be the case. Besides an individual having muscle contractions in their lip, they may as well experience repeated spasms, numbness, and sensational palpitation within the lip.3
Causes of Lip Twitching
Many things may cause your lips to twitch and while some are simple things you shouldn’t be worried about, others can be serious medical issues that need immediate doctor’s attention. Lip twitches can be caused by the following:1,2,3,4
Taking excess caffeine
You know that caffeine is a stimulant, so if you have excess of it, it may begin to cause lip twitching. This is given the name ‘caffeine intoxication.’ If you love taking coffee and you drink excess, say three or more cups of coffee every day, you may be perceived to have coffee intoxication if you have at least a couple of the following signs and symptoms:2
- Muscle twitching
- Excessive energy
- Flushed face
- Increased urine output
- Rambling speech
- Abnormal or fast heartbeat
- Upset stomach or diarrhea and nausea
- Psychomotor agitation for example, tapping or pacing
Having low levels of the mineral potassium in the system may result in lip twitching. Potassium is considered and electrolyte, and it helps in carrying nerve signals in various parts of the body. When you have potassium deficiency, it can affect the way you muscles functions causing cramps and spasm. Taking foods that are rich in potassium may help fix the problem. Also, you may want to avoid medications that may be affecting potassium levels in your body.
Many prescription drugs may cause a side effect known as fasciculation of muscle twitching. Some over-the-counter medicines such as diuretics, estrogens, and steroids are known to contribute to this side effect. You may want to talk to the doctor if you have fasciculation, a switch to a different form of medication may help address this problem.
A person who has Bell’s palsy will experience symptoms such as paralysis occurring on one side of their face. The symptoms may vary, however, in some cases, a person may have difficulties in moving their mouth, nose, and eyelids. Again, a patient having this disorder may experience twitches as well as weakness affecting one side of the face. There is no known cause of Bell’s palsy, nonetheless, doctors have linked it to oral herpes virus. A doctor may need to look at you during the time you are experiencing the symptoms to help diagnose you of Bell’s palsy. Treatment may vary, however, it is based on the symptoms you are experiencing – a doctor may prescribe steroids or physical therapy.
Excessive consumption of alcohol or addictive drugs may bring about nerve damage, impacting the functioning of your brain. People who have taken drugs for an extended period or consumed high amounts alcohol may have facial muscle spasms that may manifest in form of lip twitching. When that happens, such individuals are aid to have alcoholic neuropathy. A patient with this condition may need treatment that includes reducing or refraining from alcohol consumption, using anticonvulsants, and taking vitamin supplements.
When a person is overly excited, excessively overwhelmed, or distraught, they may have their lips trembling. The autonomic nervous system as well as the sympathetic nervous system tends to stimulate the nerve endings found in the lower and upper lips. This situation may cause other symptoms as pupil dilation, speech impediment, facial flushing, and watery eyes. Usually, the twitching will persist until the individual focuses on the events contributing to the emotional reaction.
When you talk of hemifacial spasms or tics, they are muscle spasms occurring on one side of your face. They may also be referred to as tic convulsif, and are common among women aged 40 and also seen in people of Asian origin. Hemifacial spasms aren’t life threatening, however, they can seem distracting and uncontrollable. Tics occur when there is damage to an individual’s seventh cranial nerve.
This affects the facial muscles. The nerve damage may be caused by another condition or a blood vessel that has been pressing on the nerve. Doctors diagnose an individual of hemifacial spasms with use of MRI, angiography, and CAT scan. The most common way of treating hemifacial spasms is use of Botox injections, however, these need to be done after every six months so that they remain effective.
Botox injections work by paralyzing the muscles partially to prevent twitching. A patient with hemifacial spasm may require microvascular decompression, which is a type of surgery. This surgery is intended for long term treatment and aims at removing the blood vessel, which could be causing the tics.
Talking of Parkinson’s disease, it is a brain disorder, which causes symptoms such as stiffness, tremors, and slow movements. It’s a degenerative disease that worsens over time. The early signs of this disorder include slight tremors affecting the hands, chin, lower lip, and leg. It’s not known what causes this disorder. Treatment of Parkinson’s disease including medication aimed at replenishing dopamine in your brain or use of medical marijuana. Surgery may be recommended in extreme cases.
With Tourette syndrome, it’s a disorder that brings about involuntary sounds and movements in an individual. It brings about motor and speech tics, and while these are not life threatening or painful, they can be embarrassing. Tourette syndrome mainly affects men than women – with men having four times chances of developing the disorder than women.
Symptoms of Tourette syndrome will appear at the age of 2 to 15 years. It’s not exactly known what the cause of Tourette syndrome is however; it has been linked to hereditary causes. The disorder has no cure and treatment usually include medication and therapy to help with the symptoms. People who have the disorder and are experiencing lip twitching and other motor tics, they may be administered Botox shots for an effective treatment of the symptoms.
Lou Gehrig’s disease
This is commonly known as Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and it is a brain disease affecting an individual’s nerves and spinal cord. Early symptoms of the disease are such as twitching, muscles weakness, and slurred speech. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is degenerative and fatal. A doctor diagnoses the patients using electromyography and spinal tap. Again, there is no known cure for this disease, however, these medicines are available to treat it – Radicava and Riluzole.
It’s a rare condition involving thyroid gland, which causes your body to release low levels of hormone parathyroid. This may in turn make the person to have low levels of phosphorus and calcium. People with hyperparathyroidism may have symptoms such as twitching around their moth, hands, and throat.
If you experience lip twitches that are accompanied by other symptoms such as tingling fingertips, aching legs and feet, and hair loss, you could be having this thyroid disorder. Treatment may involve taking a diet that is rich in calcium, using calcium supplements, having vitamin D supplements, and getting parathyroid hormone replacement or injections.
Individuals who have DiGeorge syndrome are said to be missing a section or part of chromosome 22. This causes various systems of the body to under-develop. People with this disorder have underdeveloped facial features that may contribute to twitching around the person’s moth, blueish skin, cleft palate, and difficult in swallowing. The disorder is usually diagnosed at birth. The symptoms may be treated, however, there is no way the disorder can be prevented or cured.
Diagnosis of Lip Twitching
Because lip twitches are a motor symptom, it’s easier for doctors to be able to see the tremors or tics a patient is having. The doctor may need to evaluate other symptoms a patient is experiencing to help diagnose the cause of the twitches. The doctor may ask you questions to find out more about your lifestyle and whether you have excessively been taking alcohol or coffee.
Where no other symptoms can be seen, the doctor may order for tests including:
- Blood tests
- CAT scan
Treatment of Lip Twitching
The kind of treatment a patient with lip twitches gets will depend on the cause and the symptoms. Some cases may not have cure for the cause of the tremors, however, the symptoms can be managed. In people who have low levels of potassium, they may need to take more bananas and foods rich in this mineral. Botox injections are effective in getting rid of the tics or tremors.
A patient may also want to:2,3,4,5,6,7
- Reduce their daily coffee intake, say taking less than three cups in a day. They may even avoid taking caffeine altogether.
- Minimize or stop taking alcohol
- Take foods containing high amounts of potassium including bananas, spinach, broccoli, and avocado
- Use the finger to apply pressure on the lips, a warm cloth may also work well
- Reduce stress
- Behavioral therapy may also help to treat chronic lip twitching1.
- Lip Twitching. http://www.healthyandnaturalworld.com/lip-twitching/
- Understanding Lip Twitching. https://www.healthline.com/health/lip-twitching#modal-close
- Lip Twitching Meaning, Causes, Treatment, and Superstitions. https://www.doctorshealthpress.com/general-health-articles/lip-twitching-causes-treatment/
- Lip Twitching. https://healthool.com/lip-twitching/
- What Causes Twitching of Lip and What to Do? Available at http://www.newhealthguide.org/Lip-Twitching.html
- What Causes Twitching in Upper Lip? Available at http://www.newhealthguide.org/Upper-Lip-Twitching.html
- Lip Twitching. http://www.healthhype.com/lip-twitching.html