Tardive Dyskinesia: A Movement Disorder

Tardive Dyskinesia is an undesirable side effect because of certain medications usually taken for a mental health issues. People who suffer from this drug-induced movement condition cannot maintain control over their facial expressions. Tongue thrusting, lip smacking and fast eye movement are some of the facial tics they develop. Antipsychotics, which treat mental diseases, may be to blame. However, when you switch drugs, your symptoms can go away.

When you have TD, your face and body go into jerky, inflexible motions that you have no control over. You may unintentionally blink your eyes, stick out your tongue, or wave your arms. Antipsychotic drugs aren't for everyone. However, it can be permanent if it occurs. So if you notice that you can't control your movements, don't hesitate to tell your doctor. Your doctor may recommend one or more of the following to help alleviate your symptoms:

  • Lower the dosage.
  • As an antidote, take another drug along with the one you're already taking.
  • Switch your medication.

“Tardive” is a synonym for delayed or behind. And an involuntary muscle movement is called "dyskinesia." With this condition (involuntary muscle movement), there's a delay between individual developing dyskinesia and when a person starts a medication. This condition happens when people take medicine for years.

How Common Is TD?

About 500,000 people in the United States have tardive dyskinesia. Antipsychotic (neuroleptic) medication users who have been taking medicine for a long time are at a high risk of developing this side effect.

Causes of Tardive Dyskinesia

Tardive dyskinesia is a side effect of several drugs. Medications for mental illness and gastrointestinal and neurological issues are the primary cause. Some people who take a drug get tardive dyskinesia while others do not, and doctors still don't know why.

There is an increased risk of tardive dyskinesia with dopamine antagonists (dopamine blockers). Dopamine is produced by nerve cells (neurons) in your neurological system. A neurotransmitter is a substance that transmits information from one nerve cell to another. In other words, it activates dopamine receptors in the brain (proteins in your brain and nerves). To transmit nerve signals that control bodily movements, the two operate together in concert.

You may be more susceptible to dopamine changes in your brain's chemical composition. Nerves become overly sensitive, resulting in uncontrollable, jerky body movements.

Symptoms of TD

There is a condition known as Tardive Dyskinesia that causes jerky, rigid facial movements that are difficult to control. Included are:

Orofacial dyskinesia, also known as oro-bucco-lingual dyskinesia, is characterized by uncontrolled movements of the lips, jaw, or tongue. One possibility is:

  • Without any effort, put your tongue out
  • Blink your eyes a lot
  • Chew
  • Using your lips, pucker or smack them
  • You can do this by puffing out your cheeks
  • Frown and Grunt

Your fingers and toes, as well as your arms and legs, may be affected. That can lead to you doing the following:

  • Move your fingers around
  • Tap your feet
  • Extend your arms in front of you
  • Extend your pelvis in a wide arc
  • Sway from one side to another

These gyrations can be quick or deliberate. Working and staying active may be difficult for you.

Who Is Prone to Tardive Dyskinesia?

Tardive dyskinesia can affect anyone. All genders, races, and ethnicities are affected by tardive dyskinesia. Older people, those of African descent, and those who are female are more likely to suffer from it. Your risk is increased by a number of factors, such as:

  • Diabetes
  • A virus that causes AIDS (Human Immunodeficiency virus)
  • Abuse of drugs or alcohol
  • Traumatic damage to the brain (Traumatic brain injury)

How to Diagnose TD?

If you are on medication, as a precaution, your healthcare professional will keep an eye out for any symptoms of tardive dyskinesia. A healthcare physician may recommend specific tests if you show symptoms of TD. These tests can rule out other movement disorders, such as Parkinson's. These tests consist of:

  • Examine the nerve system using a physical examination
  • Infections and diseases are detected by the use of urine and blood testing.
  • The electrical activity of your brain can be measured via an EEG or electroencephalogram.
  • Muscle-nerve communication is measured using electromyography (EMG)

The Final Verdict

Certain medicines can cause a rare adverse effect called tardive dyskinesia. They treat mental illness, digestive issues, and some neurological conditions. Stopping or altering the dosage of medication provides relief for many people. Only under a medical professional's guidance should you carry out these alterations. Treatments for Tardive Dyskinesia are available if symptoms continue.

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