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Tourette Syndrome

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Tourette syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder wherein the affected person makes repetitive and stereotyped involuntary movements, or noises, called ‘tics’.

The condition was named after the French neurologist Dr. Georges Gilles de la Tourette, who first described Tourette Syndrome (TS) in the year 1885 after studying an 86-year-old French noblewoman.

It is now understood that one out of every 100 persons has Tourette Syndrome (TS).

Persons with Tourette syndrome have little control over the unusual movements or sounds (‘tics’) that they make.

Tourette Syndrome

Tics that are commonly manifested include throat-clearing and blinking. Repetition of words, blurting them out, using swear words or spinning around are also among the commonly observed tics.

The cause(s) of Tourette syndrome remains unknown. Tics begin to be noticed in early childhood between the ages of 7-10 and it gradually worsens by the time the child enters early teens. From late teen to adulthood there is an improvement in the condition.

Tourette Syndrome (TS) occurs three to four times more often in males than in females.

Certain simple physical experiences can trigger tics. Using a tight collar (neck tics) or hearing another person sniffing or clearing throat may trigger similar sounds from a susceptible person. Stress or other forms of excitement can worsen tics.

Tics are not involuntary although it has been made to appear so. It is untrue to say that tic sufferers have no control over their condition. Many with tics have referred to a compelling sensation or urge prior to the actual manifestations of tics and they go on to describe a certain need to relieve the sensation much like scratching one’s leg after ant bites it. Suppression is possible but it often leads to over-expression of the same at the nearest available opportunity.

Usually people outgrow this condition and treatment is often not required unless tics interfere with the quality of daily life.

The best form of therapy would be to focus on activities that calm the mind. Medicines and talk therapy are also known to help.

Tourette Syndrome (TS) is seen widely in people of all ethnic backgrounds.

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