Tourette’s2018-02-21T23:56:44+00:00

Tourette’s Syndrome

Tourette Syndrome

Tourette Syndrome

Tourette syndrome (TS) is a disorder that affects the body’s brain and nervous system by causing tics — sudden, repetitive movements or sounds that some people make, seemingly without realizing it. A person with Tourette syndrome has multiple motor tics and at least one vocal tic.

Tics are actually more common in teens than you might think. You may know someone who has either a motor tic (sudden, uncontrollable movements like exaggerated blinking of the eyes) or a vocal tic (sounds such as throat clearing, grunting, or humming).

Tourette syndrome is a genetic disorder, which means it’s the result of a change in genes that are either inherited (passed on from parent to child) or happens during development in the womb. As with other genetic disorders, someone may have a tendency to develop TS. But that doesn’t mean the person will definitely get it.

The exact cause of Tourette syndrome isn’t known, but some research suggests that it happens when there’s a problem with how nerves communicate in certain areas of the brain. An upset in the balance of neurotransmitters (chemicals in the brain that carry nerve signals from cell to cell) might play a role.

People with Tourette syndrome usually first notice symptoms while they’re kids or teens. TS affects people of all races and backgrounds, although more guys than girls have the condition.

And, Tourette syndrome is not contagious. You can’t catch it from someone who has it.

Prevalence of co-occurring conditions and disorders among children with TS

Data on 65,540 US children aged 6-17 years from the 2011-2012 National Survey of Children’s Health.

Life Course

In most cases, tics decrease during adolescence and early adulthood, and sometimes disappear entirely; however, many experience tics into adulthood and, in some cases, tics can become worse in adulthood.

  • One study that followed youth with TS over time found that at 18 years of age, almost half (47%) of the youth had been tic-free the week before they were interviewed, just over 10% had minimal tics, over a quarter (28%) had mild symptoms, and 11% had moderate to severe tics.

Public Health Impact of TS

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working to understand TS and to improve the health and wellbeing of people with Tourette Syndrome.

Symptoms of Tourette syndrome:

The main symptoms of Tourette syndrome are tics — multiple motor tics and at least one vocal tic. Motor tics can be everything from eye blinking or grimacing to head jerking or foot stomping. Some examples of vocal tics are throat clearing, making clicking sounds, repeated sniffing, yelping, or shouting. In rare cases, people with TS might have a tic that makes them harm themselves, such as head banging.

At certain times, like when someone is under stress, the tics can become more severe, happen more often, or last longer. Or, the type of tic may change.

Some people may be able to suppress their tics for a short time. But tension builds, and it eventually has to be released as a tic. And if a person is concentrating on controlling the tic, it may be hard to focus on anything else. This can make it hard for teens with Tourette syndrome to have a conversation or pay attention in class.

Many teens with Tourette syndrome also have other conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), learning disabilities, and anxiety.

We do not know exactly how many people have Tourette Syndrome (TS).

  • A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study found that 1 of every 360 (0.3%) children 6 – 17 years of age in the United States have been diagnosed with TS based on parent report; this is about 138,000 children.
  • Other studies that included children with undiagnosed TS and children with diagnosed TS have estimated that 1 of every 162 children (0.6%) have TS.
  • This suggests that about half of children with TS are not diagnosed.
  • Among children diagnosed with TS,

    • 37% have been reported as having moderate or severe forms of the condition.
    • Boys are three to five times more likely to have TS than girls. People from all racial and ethnic groups can have TS. Non-Hispanic white children are twice as likely to have a TS diagnosis as Hispanic and non-Hispanic black children.
    • Children 12 – 17 years of age are twice as likely to have TS as children 6 – 11 years of age.

Co-Occurring Conditions

  • Among children diagnosed with TS, 86% also have been diagnosed with at least one additional mental, behavioral, or developmental condition, such as:

    • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), 63%;
    • Behavioral or conduct problems, 26%;
    • Anxiety problems, 49%
    • Depression, 25%;
    • Autism spectrum disorder, 35%;
    • Learning disability, 47%;
    • Speech or language problem, 29%
    • Intellectual disability, 12%,
    • Developmental delay affecting his or her ability to learn, 28%.
  • More than one-third of people with TS also have obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  • 42.6% have at least one co-occurring chronic health condition.

Symptoms of Tourette syndrome:

The main symptoms of Tourette syndrome are tics — multiple motor tics and at least one vocal tic. Motor tics can be everything from eye blinking or grimacing to head jerking or foot stomping. Some examples of vocal tics are throat clearing, making clicking sounds, repeated sniffing, yelping, or shouting. In rare cases, people with TS might have a tic that makes them harm themselves, such as head banging.

At certain times, like when someone is under stress, the tics can become more severe, happen more often, or last longer. Or, the type of tic may change.

Some people may be able to suppress their tics for a short time. But tension builds, and it eventually has to be released as a tic. And if a person is concentrating on controlling the tic, it may be hard to focus on anything else. This can make it hard for teens with Tourette syndrome to have a conversation or pay attention in class.

Many teens with Tourette syndrome also have other conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), learning disabilities, and anxiety.

We do not know exactly how many people have Tourette Syndrome (TS).

  • A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study found that 1 of every 360 (0.3%) children 6 – 17 years of age in the United States have been diagnosed with TS based on parent report; this is about 138,000 children.
  • Other studies that included children with undiagnosed TS and children with diagnosed TS have estimated that 1 of every 162 children (0.6%) have TS.
  • This suggests that about half of children with TS are not diagnosed.
  • Among children diagnosed with TS,

    • 37% have been reported as having moderate or severe forms of the condition.
    • Boys are three to five times more likely to have TS than girls. People from all racial and ethnic groups can have TS. Non-Hispanic white children are twice as likely to have a TS diagnosis as Hispanic and non-Hispanic black children.
    • Children 12 – 17 years of age are twice as likely to have TS as children 6 – 11 years of age.

Co-Occurring Conditions

  • Among children diagnosed with TS, 86% also have been diagnosed with at least one additional mental, behavioral, or developmental condition, such as:

    • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), 63%;
    • Behavioral or conduct problems, 26%;
    • Anxiety problems, 49%
    • Depression, 25%;
    • Autism spectrum disorder, 35%;
    • Learning disability, 47%;
    • Speech or language problem, 29%
    • Intellectual disability, 12%,
    • Developmental delay affecting his or her ability to learn, 28%.
  • More than one-third of people with TS also have obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  • 42.6% have at least one co-occurring chronic health condition.