Tourette syndrome is a condition that causes uncontrolled sudden and repetitive muscle movements and sounds known as tics. Tourette symptoms usually appears during childhood, when kids are between 5–9 years old. It’s rare, and boys are more likely to be affected than girls. The tics associated with Tourette syndrome may get milder or go away entirely as kids grow into adulthood. Until that happens, though, parents can help their child cope with the condition.
Causes of Tourette syndrome
Tourette syndrome is caused by a genetic disorder. The exact cause of Tourette syndrome is unknown, but some research observes issues in the brain and problems with how nerve cells communicate. An imbalance of neurotransmitters may also be responsible. Many children with Tourette also have ADHD, OCD, anxiety and learning impairments.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Tourette syndrome
To be diagnosed with Tourette syndrome, a child must have several different types of tics — especially multiple motor tics and at least one vocal tic for about a year. They may happen every day periodically.
A child with Tourette symptoms may need to see a neurologist and parents will be asked to keep a track of these tics. There isn’t a specific diagnostic test for Tourette syndrome. The health care provider diagnoses it after taking a family history, medical history, looking at the symptoms, and doing a physical exam. Sometimes, imaging tests like MRI, CT or EEGs will be administered. Simple blood tests can rule out other conditions that just look like Tourette.
The treatment and symptoms of Tourette will change from one person to the other and while there is no cure there are medications that can alleviate symptoms and allow them to enjoy a normal daily life.
Each person with Tourette syndrome will cope differently with its physical, emotional, and social challenges. Tourette syndrome doesn’t have to disrupt everyday life, though, and kids who have it can enjoy doing the same things as other kids.