I am sure you are wondering is there a connection between my kid getting sick and an increase in tics.
Are you ready for a science lesson? This week are going to dive into why your child's tics seem to get worse when they are sick. When your child is sick with an infection or illness, it's normal for tics to increase. However, they're often worse when the child has a fever. This is because the body's immune system reacts to fight off the invading virus or bacteria.
When tics increase, especially when our kids are sick, it is essential to look at the immune system and inflammatory response. When your immune system becomes activated, it starts releasing inflammatory cytokines. Cytokines are a normal and natural response of the innate immune system. Cytokines are tiny proteins that are critical in controlling the growth and activity of other immune system cells as well as blood cells. When cytokins are released, they signal the immune system to do its job. In addition, many cytokines are inflammatory; think about what happens to a fire when you add lighter fluid to it...
We see the flames shoot up and become aggressive. Your immune system has the same response when our kids are sick. When those cytokines reach the brain, they activate our brain's immune cells, known as microglial cells. They are the main form of immunity in the central nervous system. Once our microglial cells start to go to work, they release a glutamate storm.
Glutamates are a type of amino acid found in the human brain. We consume glutamates daily in the foods we eat. However, processed foods are high in unbound glutamate that is toxic to the brain. The problem starts when we have an overabundance of glutamate in the brain, which leads to calcium overload. Higher levels of glutamic acid in the brain cause an imbalance of GABA, "the calming neurotransmitter."
The combination of inflammation, immune response, microglial activation, and glutamate storm can increase tics. However, when inflammation starts to subside, we usually see tic symptoms improve.
However, this same chain reaction can be a significant contributor to tics in seemingly healthy children. That is why it is so important to dig deeper and consider the source of the tics in the first place. Could it be food sensitivity, leaky gut, underlying infections, nutrient deficiency, heavy metal toxicity, chemical toxicity, stress, OR a combination of all of the above? Tics are the boil-over symptom that we see on the surface, what you want to know is what is going on below the surface.
Tics and related symptoms seem to increase when children are sick. This can be frustrating for both parents and kids, as you can see there is a lot of science behind why this happens! Children with tic disorders have an overactive immune system and inflammatory response, so it makes sense that they get worse during illness. So how do we prevent these pesky side effects? One way is by making sure your child drinks plenty of fluids to keep their body hydrated. You can also try some home remedies like ginger tea, goldenrod flower extract, peppermint oil, turmeric powder mixed with honey- all of which may help reduce inflammation in the gut lining and respiratory tract.
If you are tired of searching the internet for natural treatments for tic disorders and you have tried the magnesium and B6 but you still feel stuck You might be ready for more details about reducing tics/tics-related symptoms? You can download the Tic Disorders Cheat Sheet here.
Zheng, Z., Zhu, T., Qu, Y., & Mu, D. (2016). Blood Glutamate Levels in Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. PloS one, 11(7), e0158688. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0158688
Stanford University Medical Center. (2017). Autism May Reflect Excitation-Inhibition Imbalance In Brain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170802152544.htm
Purcell, A., Jeon, O., Zimmerman, A., Blue, M., Pevsner, J. (2001). Postmortem Brain Abnormalities of the Glutamate Neurotransmitter System in Autism. Neurology, 57(9). https://doi.org/10.1212/WNL.57.9.1618
Rojas, D. (2014). The Role of Glutamate and its Receptors in Autism and the Use of Glutamate Receptor Antagonists in Treatment. Journal of Neural Transmission, 121(8), 891–905. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00702-014-1216-0