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What triggers a trigeminal neuralgia episode?

The pain is often triggered by certain activities. Touching certain areas of the face may trigger the pain. Chewing, eating, and laughing may trigger the pain. In some patients, the pain is so sensitive that just a cold blast of wind in the face or drying one’s face off after washing is enough to trigger the pain. This pain is not constant 24 hours a day, so between attacks, which can last seconds or minutes, patients often have no pain whatsoever.

Trigeminal Neuralgia or Tic Doloureux is a condition that involves the trigeminal nerve that supplies both sensory (feeling) to the forehead, eye, cheek, and jaws, as well as motor (movement) to the mouth. Trigeminal Neuralgia is usually a benign, but debilitating disorder where electric shock-like pain is triggered by laughing, chewing, brushing your teeth, or even touching the face. Rarely, multiple sclerosis or certain brain tumors may cause it. A MRI can help rule out these more serious disorders. Treatment usually involves taking anti-convulsant drugs such as Tegretol or in some cases surgery-involving decompression of the nerve may be required.

Most triggers of trigeminal neuralgia involve your cheeks. Simple daily tasks like brushing your teeth, shaving, or putting on makeup are enough to cause excruciating pain. Eating and drinking can have the same effect, and in some cases, a breeze is all it takes. Identifying what triggers your trigeminal neuralgia will help your doctor choose the right treatment plan.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.