Tourette syndrome

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There are syndromes that do not have a lethal outcome in the fetus or the child. Such a syndrome is the Tourette one.  People with this syndrome undergo so called tics, which can occur repetitively during the day or night during sleep. However, the frequency of the tics during sleep is decreased.

What is typical of the tics?

The tics are characterized by involuntary movements and vocalizations.  There are two types of tics – simple and complex.

Simple tics include brief, sudden movements, which are triggered by a limited number of muscle groups.  For example such are eye movements, shoulder shrugging, grimaces and others.  There could be also vocalizations such as throat-clearing and grunting sounds.

Complex tics include movements which are triggered by a larger number of muscle groups. Typical of those tics are that there could be several specific movements at the time. For example head jerking and shoulder shrugging. The vocalizations also include throat-clearing, grunting, sometimes even barking. Complex tics are characterized by more noticeable vocalizations that include whole words and phrases, which are inappropriate. For example swearing. None of the movements or vocalizations are voluntary even though in some of the cases it seems as if they are.

There is another classification of the tics. According to it, tics can be vocal or motor.

A really dangerous side of these tics is that with the complex type there could be movements that threaten the health or life of the person. For example hitting oneself.

What can trigger a tic?

Tics can be triggered by seeing or hearing other people making movements or sounds similar to the ones during a tic. An example of this is hearing somebody clearing their throat.

Is there a treatment?

So far there is not a medicine that can completely cure this syndrome. There are neuroleptics that can relieve the symptoms of people with more complex tics that interfere with their normal functioning. Those neuroleptics have also side effects, such as Parkinson like symptoms, tremors and others. One effective way of avoiding these side effects is by taking at first a normal dose of neuroleptics which with time decreases before the side effects appear.

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