Tourette syndrome is a complex neurological disorder that is characterized by repetitive, sudden, uncontrolled (involuntary) movements and sounds (vocalizations) called tics. Tourette syndrome is named for Georges Gilles de la Tourette, who first described this disorder in 1885. A variety of genetic and environmental factors likely play a role in causing Tourette syndrome. A small number of people with Tourette syndrome have been found to have mutations involving the SLITRK1 gene. The syndrome is believed to be linked to problems in certain areas of the brain, and the chemical substances (dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine) that help nerve cells talk to one another. It is estimated that about 1% of the population has Tourette syndrome. Many people with very mild tics may not be aware of them and never seek medical help. Tourette syndrome is four times as likely to occur in boys as in girls. Although Tourette syndrome can be a chronic condition with symptoms lasting a lifetime, most people with the condition experience their worst symptoms in their early teens, with improvement occurring in the late teens and continuing into adulthood.
The repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics are classified as either simple or complex. Simple motor tics are sudden, brief, repetitive movements that involve a limited number of muscle groups. Some of the more common simple tics include eye blinking and other eye movements, facial grimacing, shoulder shrugging, and head or shoulder jerking. Simple vocalizations might include repetitive throat-clearing, sniffing/snorting, grunting, or barking sounds.
Complex tics are distinct, coordinated patterns of movements involving several muscle groups. Complex motor tics might include facial grimacing combined with a head twist and a shoulder shrug. Other complex motor tics may actually appear purposeful, including sniffing or touching objects, hopping, jumping, bending, or twisting. Complex vocal tics include words or phrases. Perhaps the most dramatic and disabling tics include motor movements that result in self-harm such as punching oneself in the face or vocal tics including coprolalia (uttering swear words) or echolalia (repeating the words or phrases of others). Some tics are preceded by an urge or sensation in the affected muscle group, commonly called a premonitory urge. Some individuals with Tourette syndrome will describe a need to complete a tic in a certain way or a certain number of times in order to relieve the urge or decrease the sensation.
Tics are often worse with excitement or anxiety and better during calm, focused activities. Certain physical experiences can trigger or worsen tics, for example tight collars may trigger neck tics, or hearing another person sniff or throat-clear may trigger similar sounds. Tics do not go away during sleep but are often significantly diminished.
The Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO) provides the following list of features that have been reported in people with this condition. Much of the information in the HPO comes from Orphanet, a European rare disease database. If available, the list includes a rough estimate of how common a feature is (its frequency). Frequencies are based on a specific study and may not be representative of all studies. You can use the MedlinePlus Medical Dictionary for definitions of the terms below.
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Many individuals with Tourette syndrome notice improvement of their symptoms in their late teens and early 20s. As a result, some may actually become symptom-free or no longer need medication for tic suppression. Although the disorder is generally lifelong and chronic, it is not a degenerative condition. Individuals with Tourette syndrome have a normal life expectancy. Tourette syndrome does not impair intelligence. Although tic symptoms tend to decrease with age, it is possible that neurobehavioral disorders such as ADHD, OCD, depression, generalized anxiety, panic attacks, and mood swings can persist and cause impairment in adult life.
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What happens in the body as a result of the mutation in the SLITRK gene in people who have Tourette syndrome? See answer
My son has Tourette syndrome and in my country, Peru, there is little information about treatment. Could you please provide some information? See answer
I am writing an English research paper on Tourette syndrome. Can Tourette syndrome be cured? What are the treatment options? Please provide any available information. See answer
Is Gilles de la Tourette syndrome a rare disease? What information can you provide to me about this condition? See answer