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April 11, 2017 | Neurology
Tourette syndrome, a condition of the nervous system, causes sudden, repetitive and uncontrollable behaviors. These behaviors include everything from words and sounds to simple movements, known cumulatively as “tics.”
This condition tends to develop between ages 2 and 15, and there is no known cure. However, there are treatment and support options that help patients with Tourette syndrome manage their symptoms.
The symptoms of Tourette syndrome are separated based on the nature of the tics involved: simple tics and complex tics. They’re also categorized as motor tics (involving movement) or vocal tics (involving sounds).
Tics may change based on several factors, including stress and sleep levels or changes in age. In people with Tourette syndrome, tics are preceded by a sensation known as a premonitory urge—often itches or tingling feelings that are then relieved by the tic itself.
People with Tourette syndrome can still lead normal lives, but in some cases, other challenging conditions can result:
There aren’t any known causes of Tourette syndrome, but doctors believe it’s caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors. It may also relate to chemicals in the brain like dopamine and serotonin, which help regulate nerve impulses. The two major risk factors of Tourette syndrome are family history and gender—men are three or four times as likely to develop Tourette syndrome than women, and a family history of the disease also increases your risk.
There is no cure for Tourette syndrome, but there are several treatments aimed at helping people with Tourette to live a normal life by controlling tics and other symptoms:
Medications that help control tics include:
Because of the social pressure and anxiety people Tourette syndrome may feel, support from family and friends is vital. Tics often peak during teenage years, some of the most difficult periods of social development. If your child has Tourette syndrome, you can provide support in several ways:
If you notice symptoms of Tourette syndrome in your child, speak with your doctor about non-invasive testing and your options moving forward.
“Tourette Syndrome.” WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/brain/tourettes-syndrome#1
“Tourette syndrome.” The Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tourette-syndrome/home/ovc-20163623
The Live Better Team
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.