Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder that affects the nervous system. It begins to develop very early on in life, during childhood. Tourette syndrome causes repetitive movements or sounds that cannot be controlled. They are referred to as “tics” and are usually unusual movements or odd sounds that a person has no control over doing or making. An example of a tic is when a person repetitively jerks their head for a brief period of time. Another, more common and stereotypical example is when a person unintentionally yells out offensive words.
The signs and symptoms of Tourette syndrome usually begin to appear between the ages of two and twelve. On average, people begin to develop symptoms around seven years old. Tourette syndrome is also much more common in males; males are about three to four times more likely to develop Tourette syndrome than females.
The symptoms of Tourette syndrome are tics. They can either be mild or very severe. If tics are severe, they can be very debilitating on a person’s quality of life. They can interfere with how a person speaks and ability to communicate with others as well as a person’s motor function and ability to perform daily tasks.
There are two types of tics: simple tics and complex tics. Simple tics are sudden, short and repetitive. Simple tics affect a few different muscle groups. Complex tics are easily recognizable and involve movements affecting multiple muscle groups. Tics can also be motor tics or vocal tics. Motor tics are tics that affect movement, such as within your facial expression. Vocal tics affect the sounds you produce. People with Tourette syndrome often develop motor tics before they develop vocal tics. However, the way the condition affects people can also be different for everyone.
The cause of Tourette syndrome is unknown. Unfortunately, there is currently no cure and no way to prevent it. It is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. In regards to genetic factors, Tourette syndrome may be an inherited disorder. Researchers are will working to identify the specific genes involved in the condition. However, they have discovered one genetic mutation which has been seen to cause of Tourette syndrome. This is very rare though and has only been seen in a very small number of cases.
There are not many risk factors for Tourette syndrome, but the ones we do know about may increase your risk for developing the condition. Risk factors for Tourette syndrome include family history and being male. Having a family history of Tourette syndrome or other tic disorders may increase the risk of developing Tourette syndrome. An in regards to being male, males are about three to four times more likely than females to develop the condition.