Lips are the structure which covers the opening of the mouth and consists of the upper and the lower lips. Each of the lip is surrounded by the orbicularis oris muscle which encircles its opening.
Lip twitching is the sudden abnormal involuntary contractions of the lip muscles. It may sometimes involve the upper, lower or both the lips together. It might be due to some direct stimulation or due to irritation of the nerve supplying the muscles surrounding the lips.
Different people may experience different symptoms of lip twitching. But usually it is felt as slight tremors of only the upper lip or of the entire side of the face. Along with this, few might have numbness or some abnormal sensation of that part of the lip or curling sensation of the edges of the lips.
Upper Lip Twitching Superstition
Upper lip twitching or lip twitching in general is associated with many superstitious beliefs. It is believed that if your upper lip is twitching, you are going to kiss someone or you are going to hear some good news; however if your lower lip is twitching, you will be kissed by someone or going to receive some bad news.
Similarly, if the right side of your lip twitches, something good is going to happen that day or if your left side of the lip twitches, something bad is going to happen that day. [3,4]
Causes for Upper Lip Twitching
There are multiple causes for upper lip twitching. Some of the commonest causes are:
- Severe anxiety or stress
- Excessive fatigue
- Excess caffeine
- Nicotine (cigarette) abuse or withdrawal
- Alcohol abuse or withdrawal
- Other substance withdrawal – cocaine, heroin, amphetamines
- Electrolyte imbalance – mainly hypokalemia (reduction of potassium in blood, seen with other symptoms like muscle weakness, muscle cramps, constipation etc)
- Herpes simplex infection of the lips (cold sore / fever blisters)
Other causes for persistent twitching are:
a condition with temporary weakness or paralysis of the muscles of one side of the face due to damage or trauma to the nerve supplying the facial muscles (facial nerve) [5,6]. The other symptoms include lack of sensations on that side of the face, drooling of saliva, inability to close the eye on the affected side which leads to dry eye, loss of taste, increased sensitivity to hearing on the affected side etc.
is a condition where low level of parathyroid hormone is secreted in the body which leads to low blood and bone calcium levels. Along with lip twitching, the other symptoms are muscle weakness and cramps, tingling and burning sensation of limbs and psychiatric symptoms (depression, memory disturbances etc) .
Is a progressive disease of the nervous system which mainly affects the movement [8,9]. The main symptoms here are muscle rigidity, changes in gait and speech, tremors (could include muscle twitching), mood and behavioral changes, postural instability etc.
Is a genetic neurological disease where children are seen to have abnormal involuntary movements and noises which are known as tics . The tics could be motor tics (sudden brief repetitive movements involving any muscle groups) or vocal tics (repetitive throat clearing, grunting or sniffing) .
These tics worsen during stress or anxiety. Tourette’s syndrome is usually associated with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or OCD (Obsessive Compulsive disorder, where a person keeps doing same work repetitively).
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
is a type of rapidly progressing neurological disease which occurs due to the death of the motor neurons in the brain (including the brain stem) and the spinal cord. This leads to gradual muscle weakening resulting in speech slurring, muscle twitching and weakness of any limb, followed by progressive respiratory muscle weakening finally leading to death. [12, 13]
Upper Lip Twitching – Treatment
Many a times, lip twitching is self-limiting; i.e. it gets controlled on its own without any treatment. Controlling the underlying causes such as anxiety, substance abuse or withdrawal (including nicotine, alcohol, caffeine etc), consuming a well-balanced diet also helps.
Meditation, relaxation techniques help when it is due to severe stress or anxiety. For immediate relief, applying pressure with finger to the twitching area or applying a warm cloth to the area stops the twitching immediately.
However if inspite of all this if the twitching persists or increases in severity or frequency, the doctor should be consulted immediately to rule out any other underlying causes. [2, 4, 14]