Tourette syndrome

Overview

Tourette (too-RET) syndrome is a disorder that involves repetitive movements or unwanted sounds (tics) that can’t be easily controlled. For instance, you might repeatedly blink your eyes, shrug your shoulders or blurt out unusual sounds or offensive words.

Tics typically show up between ages 2 and 15, with the average being around 6 years of age. Males are about three to four times more likely than females to develop Tourette syndrome.

Although there’s no cure for Tourette syndrome, treatments are available. Many people with Tourette syndrome don’t need treatment when symptoms aren’t troublesome. Tics often lessen or become controlled after the teen years

Symptoms

Tics — sudden, brief, intermittent movements or sounds — are the hallmark sign of Tourette syndrome. They can range from mild to severe. Severe symptoms might significantly interfere with communication, daily functioning and quality of life.

Tics are classified as:

Simple tics. These sudden, brief and repetitive tics involve a limited number of muscle groups.

Complex tics. These distinct, coordinated patterns of movements involve several muscle groups.

Tics can also involve movement (motor tics) or sounds (vocal tics). Motor tics usually begin before vocal tics do. But the spectrum of tics that people experience is diverse.

Common motor tics seen in Tourette syndrome

Simple ticsComplex tics
Eye blinking      Shoulder shrugging
Stepping in a certain patternNose twitching  Bending or twisting
Head jerking movementsRepeating observed
Eye dartingObscene gesturing
Mouth movementsHopping
Simple ticsComplex tics
GruntingRepeating one’s own words or phrases
Throat clearingTouching or smelling objects
CoughingRepeating others’ words or phrases
Using vulgarobscene or swear words
Barking 

In addition, tics can:

  • Vary in type, frequency and severity
  • Worsen if you’re ill, stressed, anxious, tired or excited
  • Occur during sleep
  • Change over time
  • Worsen in the early teenage years and improve during the transition into adulthood

Before the onset of motor or vocal tics, you’ll likely experience an uncomfortable bodily sensation (premonitory urge) such as an itch, a tingle or tension. Expression of the tic brings relief. With great effort, some people with Tourette syndrome can temporarily stop or hold back a tic.

When to see a doctor

See your child’s pediatrician if you notice your child displaying involuntary movements or sounds.

Not all tics indicate Tourette syndrome. Many children develop tics that go away on their own after a few weeks or months. But whenever a child shows unusual behavior, it’s important to identify the cause and rule out serious health problems.

Link: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tourette-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20350465

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