Tourette’s syndrome is a disorder which is involving repetitive movements or unwanted sounds (called tics) which cannot be easily controlled. For example, you can blurt out unusual sounds or offensive words, shrug your shoulders or repeatedly blink your eyes. Tics are usually showing up between the ages of two and fifteen, with the average being around six years of age. It is a known fact that males are having 3 – 4 times more chances to develop Tourette’s syndrome than females. There is no cure for this disorder but there are some treatments that can help with easing the symptoms. There are many people who suffer from Tourette’s syndrome who do not need treatment when symptoms are not troublesome. Tics can often lessen or become controlled after the teen years.
Tourette’s Syndrome Symptoms:
The hallmarks of Tourette’s syndrome are tics. They are sudden, brief and intermittent sounds or movements. The severe symptoms can interfere with daily functioning, communication and the quality of life. There are two classifications of tics:
- Complex tics: These tics are distinct and coordinated patterns of movements which are involving several muscle groups. The most common motor tics for this group are hopping; blending or twisting; obscene gesturing; stepping in a certain pattern; repeating observed movements; touching or smelling objects. The most common vocal tics in this group are using vulgar, obscene or swear words; repeating other’s words or phrases; repeating one’s own words or phrases.
- Simple tics: This type of tic is brief, sudden and repetitive tic and it is involving a limited number of muscle groups. The most common motor tics in this group are mouth movements; nose twitching; eye darting; shoulder-shrugging; head jerking and eye blinking. The most common vocal tics in this group are barking; throat clearing; coughing and grunting.
Tics can involve sounds (vocal tics) or movement (motor tics). Usually, the motor tics happen before the vocal tics do. The spectrum of tics in which people with Tourette’s syndrome experience is diverse.
Also, tics have other characteristics, such as
- They can worsen in the early teenage years and they can improve during the transition into the adulthood
- They can change over time
- They can happen during sleep
- They can worsen if you are excited, tired, anxious, stressed or ill
- They can vary in the severity, frequency, and type
Before you have a motor or vocal tics, you are having chances to experience uncomfortable bodily sensations (it is known as premonitory urge), such as tension, a tingle or an itch. The expression of tic is bringing relief. There are some people with Tourette’s syndrome who can temporarily stop or hold back a tic when they are using a great effort. You should visit your child’s pediatrician if you have noticed that your child is displaying involuntary sounds or movements. You should know that not all tics mean that you have Tourette’s syndrome. There are some children who develop tics which go away on their own in a period of a few weeks or months. But it is very important to visit the doctor if you have noticed your child has unusual behavior because this can identify the cause and can help in the prevention of serious health problems.
Tourette’s Syndrome Causes:
The exact cause for the Tourette’s syndrome is not known. This is a complex disorder which is caused by a combination of environmental factors and genes. Also, those chemicals in the brain which transmit nerve impulses (known as neurotransmitters), including serotonin and dopamine, can play a role in it.
Tourette’s Syndrome Risk factors:
Here are some factors which are increasing the risk for Tourette’s syndrome:
- Sex: It is a known fact that males are having 3 – 4 times more chances to develop Tourette’s syndrome than females.
- Family history: If you have a family member with Tourette’s syndrome or other tic disorders, then you have an increased risk of getting this disorder.
Tourette’s Syndrome Complications:
Here are some conditions which are associated with Tourette’s syndrome:
- Anger – management problems
- Pain-related to tics, especially headaches
- Anxiety disorders
- Sleep disorders
- Learning disabilities
- Autism spectrum disorder