Tics:

Involuntary and uncontrollable movement or vocalization that appears suddenly and is unspecific to the person’s normal behavior. A tic “builds-up”, thus the person in case feels a sense of relief after their manifestation. There are three categories: transient (provisional) tic disorders (in children, present for less than a year and does not recur), chronic motor or vocal tic disorder, and Tourette syndrome. Tics are common in childhood and usually disappear within a few weeks.

 

Tourette syndrome:

This syndrome implies having recurring manifestations of both motor and vocal tics for over a year. The motor and vocal tics usually occur at the same time in the majority of cases.

Causes

Tics:

 

The exact cause is unknown, but there are a couple of factors that influence their prevalence

 

Possible causes: genetic inheritance, brain abnormalities, faulty neurotransmitters, streptococcal infections in children

 

Usually children with tics have other disorders: ADHD, OCD, anxiety disorder, learning problems, autism spectrum disorder

 

Tourette syndrome:

 

Exact cause unknown

Presumably, a combination of genetic and environmental factors

Affected serotonin and dopamine levels (neurotransmitters)

A family history of Tourette syndrome makes a person more susceptible to the disorder

Symptoms and signs

Tics can be motor or vocal, simple or complex:

Frequent eye blinking

Grimacing

Shoulder shrugging

Mouth movement – jaw clenching, teeth grinding

Making simple sounds

Clearing the throat

Sniffing

Coughing

Repeating observed movements

Obscene gesturing

 

Tourette Syndrome:

Grunting

Coughing with no reason, throat clearing

Barking

Repeating words and phrases (his/her own or other’s)

Using vulgar, swear words

Advice

 

There are no brain or laboratory tests that can diagnose tics or Tourette syndrome

 

The diagnosis is based on patient observation, medical and family history, and tests that rule out other medical conditions that could be responsible, drug tests

 

For Tourette syndrome diagnostic: the patient has at least two motor tics and a vocal one that have been present for over a year; also have the tics onset, before 18 years of age

 

Habit reversal therapy is suggested

 

Medication: dopamine D2 receptor antagonist therapy, dopamine agonist therapy

 

Clonidine may be recommended – medication that can help control anxiety and hyperactivity

 

In exceptional cases: Deep Brain Stimulation (through electrodes)

 

Some concentrated dietary supplements (nutraceuticals) have shown some improvement in the case of persons with tics

 

Some tics can be suppressed, but in most cases they eventually “explode” – the build-up is sensed by the person and repressing it often causes more stress and frustration

MISCONCEPTIONS
  •  

    Excessive and sudden swearing is a defining sign of Tourette syndrome. (only 10-15% of the cases have “swearing issues”)

     

    Tics are caused by bad parenting

     

    Teaching a child to suppress one tic will lead to him/her developing many others

     

    Tourette syndrome gets worse with age

     

    Tourette syndrome can be fully managed just by concentrating

     

    People with tics/Tourette syndrome are mentally challenged

     

    Tourette syndrome is a debilitating disorder

     

    People with tics/Tourette cannot perform certain tasks or have certain jobs that require finesse in movement

Statistics

Tics – American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

 

Tics occur in early school years in up to 10% of children

 

They usually appear between the ages of 4 and 6 years, reach a critical peak around 10-12 and usually disappear in adolescence

 

In about 1% of the cases the tics persist throughout adult life

 

Over 18% of all children have at least one tics at some point in their development

 

Tourette syndrome:

 

Men are up to four times more prone to developing Tourette syndrome than women

 

1 in every 360 US children (age: 6-17) has Tourette syndrome (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimation)

Did you know?

 

Less TV time and video games limit tic manifestation

 

British poet Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) suffered from Tourette syndrome and OCD

 

Major League Baseball player, Jim Eisenreich has Tourette syndrome. He created the Jim Eisenreich Foundation for Children with Tourette Syndrome in 1996