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Tourette's

Tourette's is a neurological condition that causes unwanted ,involuntary muscle movements and sounds known as tics. 

It usually starts in childhood but the tics and other symptoms usually improve after several years or even go away all together.

There are treatments that can help manage the condition but there is no known cure.  

People with Tourette's syndrome may also have obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or learning difficulties.

Tics can be worse on some days than others.

They may be worse during periods of:

  • stress
  • anxiety
  • tiredness

To diagnose a child has to have had verbal and motor tics to a degree that they are impacting on their life and have lasted 12 months or more.

Diagnosis can happen in a variety of ways initially it will start with your GP  who will then refer on to a paediatrics, neurology or psychiatry and they would then arrange the necessary investigations. 

Tics are the main symptom of Tourette's syndrome. They usually appear in childhood between the ages of 2 and 14 (around 6 years is the average).

People with Tourette's syndrome have a combination of physical and vocal tics.

Examples of physical tics include:

  • blinking
  • eye rolling
  • grimacing
  • shoulder shrugging
  • jerking of the head or limbs
  • jumping
  • twirling
  • touching objects and other people

Examples of vocal tics include:

  • grunting
  • throat clearing
  • whistling
  • coughing
  • tongue clicking
  • animal sounds
  • saying random words and phrases
  • repeating a sound, word or phrase
  • swearing

Swearing is rare and only affects about 1 in 10 people with Tourette's syndrome.

Most people with Tourette's syndrome experience a strong urge before a tic, which has been compared to the feeling you get before needing to itch or sneeze.

These feelings are known as premonitory sensations. Premonitory sensations are only relieved after the tic has been carried out.

Examples of premonitory sensations include:

  • a burning feeling in the eyes before blinking
  • a dry or sore throat before grunting
  • an itchy joint or muscle before jerking

Some people can control their tics for a short while in certain social situations, like in a classroom. It requires concentration, but gets easier with practise.

Controlling tics can be tiring. A person may have a sudden release of tics after a day trying to control them, like after returning home from school.

Tics may be less noticeable during activities involving a high level of concentration, such as reading an interesting book or playing sports.

Tourette's Action website has excellent resources and information for you to look at. 

They also have social media pages

Tourettes Action | Facebook

Tourettes Action (@tourettesaction) | Twitter

Tourettes Action (@tourettesaction) | Instagram photos and video

Tourettes Action | YouTube

Last updated: 18/03/2021