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Tourette's Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Many misbeliefs surround Tourette's syndrome. Here's all you need to know about to understand what it feels to live with the disorder.

Tourette

Tourette's syndrome causes sudden repetitive movements called the tics

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Tourette's syndrome causes people to make sudden repetitive movements
  2. It generally occurs in children and is rare in adults
  3. Though the tics can suppressed, they cause physical exhaustion

Tourette's syndrome is a neuropsychiatric disorder that causes people to make sudden repetitive movements or sounds which aren't controlled (known as tics). For example, an individual with Tourette's syndrome may blink rapidly, clear their throat, shrug, turn heads and make controllable hand movements or blurt out words they don't intend to. Though these tics can be suppressed, it is often physically exhausting to do so. One, in hundred children suffers from Tourette's, which is the same as the number of children with autism.

Here is all you need to know about Tourette's syndrome.

Causes


Though the exact cause of the Tourette's syndrome is unknown, it is believed to be caused both by genetic and environmental factors. Studies suggest that it is inherited most of the time, though the mode of inheritance and the carrier gene is not yet identified. This syndrome has been linked to a dysfunction in an area in the brain, which could be basal ganglia, thalamus and frontal cortex, which controls the body movements. A disruption in the working of neurotransmitters is also believed to cause tics.
 

brain

Photo Credit: iStock

Symptoms

Tourette's syndrome causes sudden repetitive movements called the tics. These can be so mild as to go unnoticed and can be severe enough to seek medical assistance as well. These tics can be of two types, motor tics and vocal tics.

Motor tics concentrate on the sudden, involuntary muscle movement in the body. These include:

  • Head jerking
  • Rapid blinking
  • Mouth, or face twitching
  • Shrugging
  • Arms jerking

Vocal tics concentrate on the involuntary vocal sounds made by an individual. For example:

  • Throat clearing
  • Coughing
  • Repeating what someone else says
  • Swearing
  • Shouting
  • Sniffing

It is also observed that just before a tic, there is an urge in an individual. This urge goes away with the tic. Tics are suppressible but suppressing them may cause physical and mental exhaustion.

People diagnosed with Tourette's, when temporarily controlling their tics have a trouble in focusing. They also have symptoms similar to those of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). This disorder can also cause anxiety and learning disabilities in a person.

Also Read: Why ADHD In Girls Is Often Overlooked

Diagnosis

There is no specific diagnosis for the disorder but taking the patient to a doctor who specializes in neurology is the best option. Often, the disease goes misdiagnosed because of the lack of screening test for it.

Treatment

Tourette's syndrome generally develops in childhood. Its occurrence in adults is a rarity and generally goes unnoticed. In most cases, treatment is not needed as the symptoms get better as a child grows up.

If the symptoms are not mild in a child and cause a hindrance in the day-to-day activities, it is best to seek treatment.

Medications like Haloperidol, Clonidine, and Fluoxetine are generally prescribed.

It is advisable to undergo therapy along with medications. A psychologist or a counselor can show the patient better ways to deal with the tics. In most cases, the kids grow out of their tics or it becomes manageable as they enter adulthood.

Also Read: Top 5 Facts About Eating Disorders

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