Tourette syndrome is a disorder of the nervous system and it is characterized by sudden, repetitive, purposeless and involuntary muscular movements known as tics along with repetitive vocalizations. This is not a degenerative condition and the individual can learn behavior techniques to control his tics.
Laboratory tests and diagnostic procedures
There are no specific laboratory tests or diagnostic procedures to establish the diagnosis of Tourette’s syndrome. The child is usually brought to the doctor after he starts showing symptoms of tics. The most common tics are facial tics and the parents may complain that the child suffers from facial tics and vocal tics especially when he is nervous or stressed. Tics can be usually diagnosed at a regular health check up.
The health care professional may monitor the condition for a few months as transient tics are a common occurrence in childhood and present no other complications. These tics usually go away on their own after three to four months and no medical intervention is needed. When the child suffers from persistent, severe and disabling tics or when the child shows other symptoms such as sleeping disorders and learning disabilities such as dyslexia then the doctor may refer the person suffering from tics to a neurologist in order to assess the cause of tics. The doctor may also conduct blood tests, urine tests, ultrasound and x-ray examination in order to rule out all other possible causes of tics or other neurological disorders.
Diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome
The diagnosis of Tourette syndrome is based on the following observations:
- The affected person shows symptoms of numerous motor tics and at least one vocal tic.
- The child has frequent occurrences of tics in one day and the tics occur nearly every day or every few days for a period of more than one year. The tics have a tendency to recur. They last for a few days, disappear and start again after a couple of days. In order to be diagnosed with Tourette syndrome the tic free period should not exceed three months.
- In Tourette syndrome the tics usually appear before the child turns 12 months old.
- All other causes of tics and all other neurological disorders have been excluded.
Milder forms of Tourette syndrome can be wrongly diagnosed, as it often occurs at the same time as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder. Once the diagnosis of Tourette syndrome is established then the doctor can pan the line of treatment.
If a child is suffering from a minor form of Tourette syndrome then he may not be prescribed any medicines as the side effects of these medicines may lead to the aggravation of the existing symptoms. Clondine may be used as the first line of treatment for tics. Another drug used in the treatment for tics is tenex. Tenex helps to calm down the hyperactive behavior in children.
Children are usually taught behavior techniques in order to cope with the tics. Tics are made worse by stress. Providing a calm, happy and non stressful environment for the child usually helps reducing the instances of tics.