Tourette syndrome (TS) is a chronic disorder of the nervous system. It is a type of tic disorder that includes both motor and vocal tics. These tics are rapid, involuntary movements or sounds that occur repeatedly.
Many people with TS also have one or more of the following problems:
The exact cause of TS is unknown. However, brain chemicals called dopamine and serotonin are most likely involved.
There may be a genetic link to TS, although some have no known family history.
TS is inherited through genes, which make up DNA.
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Males are 3-4 times more likely to be affected. Other factors that may increase your chance of TS include:
Tics are the main symptoms of TS. To be TS, the tics must be involuntary and:
Tics will usually happen daily, range from mild-to-severe, and change in type over time. They can occur suddenly and vary in the amount of time that they last. Tics may temporarily decrease with concentration or distraction. During times of stress and tension, they may occur more often.
Tics are divided into motor and vocal. The following are some common examples:
Tics may occur throughout life, but symptoms may improve during later teen years.
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
The diagnosis of TS is usually made by the symptoms alone. Your doctor may order tests to rule out other medical conditions as the cause of the tics.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Education and therapy are usually parts of the treatment plan. In some cases, medications may be needed.
Learning about TS is a very important part of treatment. Education can also be helpful for your family, friends, and coworkers.
Therapy can also help you develop habits to help manage tics or other related symptoms. Types of therapy include:
In addition, relaxation, biofeedback, and exercise can help to reduce stress.
Medication is not required in most cases. No medication works in all people with TS. If a doctor prescribes medication, there are usually strong side effects.
Medications that may be prescribed include:
There are no current guidelines to prevent TS.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Tourette Syndrome Association
About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children
Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada
NINDS Tourette syndrome fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Tourette-Syndrome-Fact-Sheet. Updated February 12, 2018. Accessed February 15, 2018.
Tourette syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114495/Tourette-syndrome. Updated January 10, 2018. Accessed February 15, 2018.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD Last Updated: 5/6/2014