Tourette’s syndrome is a neurological
condition (affecting the brain and nervous system) that is characterised
by a combination of involuntary noises and movements called tics.
The syndrome usually starts during childhood and continues into
adulthood. It often runs in families and is often associated with
obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder (ADHD) (see below).
Tourette’s syndrome is named after the French doctor, Georges Gilles de
la Tourette, who first described the syndrome and its symptoms in the
Tics can be:
•vocal (sounds) - such as grunting, coughing or shouting out words
•physical (movements) - such as jerking of the head or jumping up and
They can also be:
•simple - making a small movement or uttering a single sound
•complex - making a series of physical movements or speaking a long
Most people diagnosed with Tourette’s
syndrome have a combination of physical and vocal tics, which can be
both simple and complex.
The tics do not usually pose a serious threat to a person's overall
health, although physical tics, such as jerking of the head, can often
be painful. However, children and adults with Tourette’s syndrome may
experience associated problems, such as social isolation, embarrassment
and low self-esteem.
What causes Tourette's syndrome?
The cause of Tourette’s syndrome is unknown. However, it is thought
to be linked to problems with a part of the brain known as the basal
ganglia, which helps regulate body movements.
In people with Tourette’s syndrome, the basal ganglia 'misfires',
resulting in the characterisitc tics.
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