What is Tourette Syndrome, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

A STourette’s indrome it’s a problem of health characterized as a neurological disease. It causes the patient to perform impulsive, frequent and involuntary acts. Tics usually appear between 5 and 7 years of age.

They start with simple movements, like blinking your eyes or moving your hands. However, especially in the 8 to 12 years, they can increase in intensity and progress to the use of repeated words, sudden movements and behaviors such as barking or screaming.

The characteristics of this disease can make socialization difficult and bring great consequences to the person.

Tourette’s Syndrome can interfere with the socialization of children and adolescents (Source: Pexels/Guduru Ajay bhargav)Source: Pexels

Throughout life, some patients can suppress movements, while others do not have the same ability to control, especially those who are experiencing emotional stress.

main symptoms

It is common for the first symptoms be observed by the family and teachers. They can be motor or vocal. Some tics are transient and only last a few months, and others are chronic and last a lifetime. If left unchecked, they can evolve and become more complex over time.

Among motor tics, some common behaviors are eye blinking, head tilting, shrugging the shoulders, touching the nose, grimacing, making obscene hand gestures, kicking, slapping and punching, hitting the chest or chin.

Among the vocals, patients can curse, sob, scream, spit, make animal sounds, moan, clear their throat (involuntarily), repeat words or phrases or change their tone of voice.

The spasms of Tourette Syndrome are difficult to control. In most cases, they appear during childhood and adolescence, but up to 21 years of age the patient is still subject to the appearance of new tics.

During sleep and activities that require concentration, symptoms may disappear. The same happens, in some cases, with the consumption of alcoholic beverages. On the other hand, stress, tiredness, anxiety and excitement are conditions that make the problem worse.

Causes and Diagnosis

The syndrome has genetic causes and is more common among people from the same family. The exact source of the problem is not known. In some patients, it is triggered by head trauma, infections or heart problems.

The diagnosis of the syndrome must be given by a specialist, and requires a lot of observation. This is because in some clinical conditions it can be confused with schizophrenia. The doctor, therefore, has to observe the movement pattern for at least a year, before diagnosing the syndrome.

No further tests are required, however, except in cases where another similar neurological disorder is suspected to be responsible for the behavior. In rare cases, it can be caused by experiencing a traumatizing episode.

Is there treatment?

There is no cure for Tourette Syndrome. The options for treatment that exist today are aimed at relieving symptoms and improve the patient’s quality of life. Therapy should always be guided and monitored by a neurologist.

When tics adversely affect people’s daily lives or put their lives at risk, she may choose to use antipsychotics such as haloperidol, pimozide, or aripiprazole.

There is also a drug capable of controlling mild and moderate tics, topiramate. There are treatments injection of botox that paralyzes the movement of the most affected muscles, in cases of repetitive tics, and which can even be applied to the larynx.

Another possibility is the use of drugs that inhibit the activity of adrenergic receptors, such as clonidine or guafancin. They help the patient to keep control of the impulsiveness.

Is it possible to have a life with Tourette?

The diagnosis of Tourette does not prevent the patient from having a normal life. Children diagnosed with the syndrome do not need to stop studying, for example. The disease does not even affect the ability to learn or reason.

A student who is diagnosed does not therefore need special education or school support. On the other hand, it is important to talk to teachers and the school coordination. Tourette’s Syndrome is still little known and there are many stigmas about it that must be clarified.

As the problem can affect socialization, it is also important for the school to promote awareness among classmates and student body across the school.

This makes it easier for the child to settle in and avoids social isolation, which can lead to depression. In addition, psychological follow-up is recommended for all patients, young and old.

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