Tourette syndrome


Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary, repetitive movements and vocalizations known as tics. These tics can range from simple motor tics, such as shoulder shrugging or eye blinking, to vocal tics like throat clearing. Typically, vocal tics develop after motor tics. This condition usually manifests in early childhood, with tics appearing between ages 2 and 15, peaking at an average onset of 6 years. It is three to four times more prevalent in males than in females. 

Tourette syndrome is considered the most severe form of tic disorder. Diagnosis is based on the specific symptoms presented to healthcare professionals. Tics are classified into two categories: 

  • Simple tics: Involving a few muscle groups, these are sudden, brief, and repetitive. Examples include a shoulder shrug for a motor tic and sniffing for a vocal tic. 
  • Complex tics: Involving multiple muscle groups, these are coordinated and distinctive movement patterns. 

While there is no cure for Tourette syndrome, treatment may not be necessary if symptoms are mild. Many individuals find that their tics diminish or become more manageable after adolescence, and the condition often improves with age. 

Tourette syndrome is a neurological condition characterized by uncontrollably repeated movements or undesired sounds (tics).  


The most distinctive indication of Tourette syndrome is tics, which are sudden, brief, irregular motions or noises. They could be minor or severe. Severe symptoms can seriously hamper one’s ability to communicate, go about everyday tasks, and enjoy life. 

Additionally, tics can involve sounds (vocal tics) or movement (motor tics). Vocal tics typically start later than motor tics. However, there is a wide range of tics that people might experience.  

Common motor tics include: 

  • Simple tics  
    • Eye blinking.  
    • Head jerking.  
    • Mouth movements  
    • Repetitive eye movement.  
    • Shrugging of shoulders.  
    • Twitching of nose.  
  • Complex tics:  
    • Bending or twisting  
    • Following a set pattern  
    • Hopping  
    • Inappropriate gesturing 
    • Repeating movements  
    • Smelling or touching objects  

Common vocal tics include: 

  • Simple tics  
    • Barking  
    • Coughing  
    • Grunting  
    • Shouting.  
    • Throat clearing  
  • Complex tics:  
    • Repetition of one’s own words or phrases  
    • Repetition of words or phrases from others  
    • Using profane, filthy, or abusive language  

You may feel an uncomfortable physical sensation (premonitory desire) such as tension, tingling, or itching before motor or verbal tics appear. Relief occurs when the tic is expressed. Some individuals with Tourette syndrome are able to momentarily halt or suppress a tic with tremendous effort.  

Tourette syndrome is not always present in tics. Many children experience tics, which usually go away on their own in a few weeks or months. However, it’s important to determine the reason and rule out any major health issues anytime a child exhibits strange behavior. In the event that your child exhibits uncontrollable movements or sounds, take them to the pediatrician.  


The exact cause of Tourette syndrome (TS) remains unclear, but it is believed to be a complex disorder influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. The condition often runs in families, suggesting a significant genetic component. Additionally, there may be issues with how the brain metabolizes neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which are crucial for regulating behavior and movement. These chemicals are essential in transmitting nerve impulses within the brain, pointing to a neurochemical basis for the disorder.

Risk factors   

The following risk factors of Tourette syndrome includes:  

  • Gender: Tourette syndrome is around three to four times more common in men than in women. 
  • Family history:Tourette syndrome may be more likely to develop if there is a family history of the condition or of other tic disorders.  

Prenatal health: Children born to moms who smoked or experienced health issues throughout their pregnancies can be more susceptible to TS. Additionally, low birth weight could increase the risk of TS.