Gilles de la Tourette syndrome is commonly known as Tourette’s syndrome or Tourette’s disorder. Tourette syndrome is a disorder of the nervous system. The hallmark of this neurological disorder is involuntary tics and repetitive vocalizations. Tics are sudden, repetitive, and stereotyped muscular movements. They are involuntary and difficult to control. They may involve a single muscle group or more than one muscle group.
Incidence of Tourette’s syndrome
Tourette syndrome commonly affects people between the ages of two and 21 years. However, the symptoms of Tourette syndrome are first noticed during childhood, between ages 7 and 10. Tourette syndrome is more common in boys than in girls. It can affect people from all races and ethnic backgrounds.
Symptoms of Tourette’s Syndrome
The symptoms of Tourette syndrome may vary in intensity in different individuals. Some of the common symptoms are listed below:
- Facial Tics
This is the most common symptom of Tourette syndrome. It is usually the first symptom that is noticed in children. Facial tics include constant wrinkling of the nose, blinking of the eyes and lip biting. The person affected by this condition may also indulge in other involuntary movements like touching the cheeks and twitching the head. Facial tics usually become worse when the person is nervous or anxious. Facial tics are aggravated by stress or drawing the attention of the child to his tics.
- Other Tics
Other tics such as shoulder shrugging are also extremely common. The affected person gets an urge to do the tic as in sneezing or itching. He feels better only when he performs the tic. Tics are hard to suppress and difficult to control. The person suffering from tourette disorder may also indulge in other tics such as snapping the fingers, smoothing clothing, obscene movements or gestures, touching things of other people and knee jerking. The tics may be present for a few days or a few months and then disappear. The tics may vary in severity and frequency. This is not a degenerative condition and the individual can learn behavior techniques to control his tics.
- Vocal Tics
When these involuntary, sudden and repetitive movements involve vocalization then these tics are called as vocal tics. Vocal tics may sound like cursing, muttering or blabbering inappropriate stuff. It may also involve repeating words from the speech of others or repeating just one word constantly. Some of the common examples of vocal tics are coughing, grunting, hissing and constant throat clearing as if wanting to say something.
- Associated Symptoms
A child affected by this disorder may also have associated problems such as difficulty in falling asleep and staying asleep, sleep disorders, poor academic performance at school, lack of self confidence, low self-esteem and the inability to control their temper. Some children may also suffer from learning difficulties, such as dyslexia or obsessive compulsive behavior. 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.