Tourette syndrome (TS) is a chronic disorder of the nervous system. It is a type of tic disorder, with motor and vocal tics. These tics are rapid, involuntary movements or sounds that occur repeatedly. Many people with TS also have one or more of the following problems:
The exact cause of TS is unknown. However, brain chemicals, called dopamine and serotonin are most likely involved.
There may be a genetic link to TS, although some have no known family history.
Genetic Material TS is inherited through genes, which make up DNA. Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Tourette syndrome (TS) is a chronic disorder of the nervous system. It is a type of tic disorder, with motor and vocal tics. These tics are rapid, involuntary movements or sounds that occur repeatedly.
Many people with TS also have one or more of the following problems:
- Compulsions and ritualistic behaviors
- Attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity
(ADD or ADHD)
- Learning disabilities
- Difficulties with impulse control
- Sleep disorders
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
The diagnosis of TS is usually made by the symptoms alone. Your doctor may order tests to rule out other medical conditions as the cause of the tics.
There is no known way to prevent TS.
Males are three to four times more likely to be affected. Other factors that may increase your risk of TS include:
- Family history of TS
- Having other tic disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Maternal stress during pregnancy
- Daily use of coffee, cigarettes and alcohol by the mother before pregnancy
Tics are the main symptoms of TS. To be TS, the tics must be involuntary and:
- Both motor and vocal tics
- Be present for more than one year
- Start before age 18
- Not absent at any time for > 3 months
- Not be due to a physiological cause like substances or a medical condition
Tics will usually happen daily, range from mild-to-severe and change in type over time. They can occur suddenly and vary in the amount of time that they last. Tics may temporarily decrease with concentration or distraction. During times of stress and tension, they may occur more often.
Tics are divided into motor and vocal. The following are some common examples:
- Simple—eye blinking, head jerking, arm or shoulder shrugging
- Complex—jumping, smelling, touching things or other people, twirling around
- Simple—throat clearing, coughing, sniffing, grunting, yelping, barking
- Complex—saying words or phrases that do not make sense in a given situation, saying obscene or socially unacceptable words—called coprolalia
While tics may occur throughout life, but symptoms may improve during later teens years.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Education and therapy are usually parts of the treatment plan. In some cases, medicine may be needed.