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Tourette syndrome

Tourette syndrome — also called Tourette's syndrome, Tourette Spectrum (TS), or Tourette's disorder — is a neurological or neurochemical[?] disorder characterized by tics[?] — involuntary, rapid, sudden movements or vocalizations that occur repeatedly in the same way. Symptoms include multiple motor and one or more vocal tics present at some time during the disorder although not necessarily simultaneously; the occurrence of tics many times a day (usually in bouts) nearly every day or intermittently throughout a span of more than one year; the periodic change in the number, frequency, type and location of the tics, and in the waxing and waning of their severity; symptoms disappearing for weeks or months at a time; and onset before the age of 18.

The term "involuntary" used to describe TS tics is a source of confusion since it is known that most people with TS do have some control over the symptoms. What is recognized is that the control which can be exerted from seconds to hours at a time may merely postpone more severe outbursts of symptoms. Tics are experienced as irresistible as the urge to sneeze and must eventually be expressed. People with TS often seek a secluded spot to release their symptoms after delaying them in school or at work. Typically, tics increase as a result of tension or stress (but are not caused by stress) and decrease with relaxation or concentration on an absorbing task.

Individuals not only struggle with the condition itself, they must bear the double burden of the stigma attached.

The majority of people with TS require no medication, but medication is available to help when symptoms interfere with functioning. TS medications are only able to help reduce specific symptoms. Neuroleptic and antihypertensive drugs can have long- and short-term side effects, and use of stimulants is controversial. Relaxation techniques and biofeedback may be useful in alleviating stress.

There is no cure for TS, however, the condition in many individuals improves as they mature. Individuals with TS can expect to live a normal life span. Although TS is generally lifelong and chronic, it is not degenerative. In a few cases, complete remission occurs after adolescence, and in many cases total remission occurs after the age of 40.

Genetic studies indicate tic disorders, including TS, are inherited as a dominant gene(s) that may produce varying symptoms in different family members. A person with TS has about a 50% chance of passing the gene(s) to one of his/her children. However, the gene(s) may express as TS, as a milder tic disorder, or as obsessive compulsive symptoms with no tics at all. It is known that a higher than usual incidence of milder tic disorders and obsessive compulsive behaviours are more common in the families of TS patients. The sex of the child also influences the expression of the gene(s). The chance that the child of a person with TS will have the disorder is at least three times higher for a son than for a daughter. Yet only a minority of the children who inherit the gene(s) will have symptoms severe enough to ever require medical attention. In some cases, TS may not be inherited; these cases are identified as "sporadic" TS because a genetic link cannot be found.

For more updated information on Tourette Syndrome and the Spectrum of Disorders visit:


With information from http://www.ninds.nih.gov/health_and_medical/disorders/tourette

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