Tourette syndrome (TS) is a problem with the nervous system that involves tics that a person cannot control. Tics are sudden muscle movements or vocal sounds that can range from mild to severe.
The exact cause is not known. Genetics and brain chemicals are thought to play a role.
TS may be inherited through genes, which make up DNA.
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This problem is more common in males. It usually starts when a child is 5 years of age. These factors in the mother may raise the risk:
Problems may be mild to severe. They can occur suddenly and the length of time they last can vary. Tics may ease during times of focus or distraction. They may happen more often during times of stress.
A person may have:
The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.
There is no cure. The goal of treatment is to manage tics. This will include care providers who specialize in TS.
Treatment options may be:
People with severe symptoms may also need medicine. It may lessen tics in some people.
There are no known guidelines to prevent this health problem.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Tourette Syndrome Association, Inc.
Tourette Syndrome Association of Ontario
Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada
Budman CL. The Role of Atypical Antipsychotics for Treatment of Tourette's Syndrome: An Overview. Drugs. 2014 Jul;74(11):1177-1193.
Tics, Tourette syndrome, and medications. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center website. Available at: https://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/t/tics-ts-meds. Accessed March 11, 2021.
Tourette syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/tourette-syndrome. Accessed March 11, 2021.
Tourette’s disorder in children. Children’s Hospital Boston website. Available at: https://www.childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions/t/tourettes-syndrome. Accessed March 11, 2021.
Last reviewed December 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Kari Kassir, MD Last Updated: 3/11/2021