Tourette syndrome (TS) is a neuro-psychiatric disorder, which is characterized by a combination of motor and vocal tics. A tic is an involuntary, rapid, uncontrolled and stereotyped movement or sound. The compulsion to perform the tic is often very difficult to manage. Tics vary from person to person. The condition is not curable.
The cause of TS is not exactly known. It is clear that a hereditary factor plays a role. It’s also known that it has to do with a disturbed transfer of information in the brains. The disease usually manifests itself in children between four and eleven years old.
A person who has Tourette syndrome is suffering from motor and vocal tics.
Examples of motor tics are:
- Jerking movements of arms or legs.
- Excessively blinking the eyes.
- Turning the eyes away.
- Having a grimace.
- Shaking head.
Examples of vocal tics are:
- Repeating sentences.
- Clearing the throat.
The condition can be socially harmful, because it’s often thought that a person is deliberately behaving so strangely.
Not everyone with a tic has Tourette syndrome. The diagnosis of this syndrome is made by a neurologist or psychiatrist if:
- Multiple motor tics and at least one vocal tic occur, not necessarily simultaneously.
- The tics continue for more than a year.
- The tics begin before the age of eighteen years.
The tics are not the result of drug use or a medical condition.
The treatment of Tourette syndrome is mainly aimed at reducing the symptoms. This is because the cause is not exactly known. Antipsychotic medicines can suppress the tics well. Unfortunately, these medicines have many side effects. Behavioral therapy may also help to reduce tics.
A method that possibly can be used for the treatment of TS is neurofeedback training. A lot of research is currently done into this method. The idea is that anyone can learn to control his or her brainwaves.
Tourette syndrome is not curable. The patient must learn to deal with it. Of course this is often very difficult, because the tics keep repeating themselves and sometimes can get worse.
The patient can try by himself to somewhat suppress the tics:
- Get sufficient rest and sleep.
- Avoid stress.
- It’s good to do things that you love to do, for example making music, singing and sports. If people with Tourette syndrome are relaxed with something they love to do, the tics will get less or stay away for a while.
- Do relaxation exercises and breathing exercises.