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Tourette's Syndrome

Tourette's Syndrome

Tourette's Syndrome (TS) is a neurological condition that usually begins in childhood or teenage years and is caused by problems with the development of the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord).

Over three times more males than females are affected by this condition and this condition often runs in families.


The full name of the condition is Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome, but it is usually called Tourette's syndrome, or just TS. George Gilles de la Tourette was the doctor who first recognised & described this disease’s symptoms.


What are the symptoms of Tourette's Syndrome?

Early symptoms of TS include repeated twitches, blinks or jerks, which are referred to as tics. In some cases, these may progress to more serious symptoms such as complex physical movements, grunts, coughs, noises or words. However, many people with TS have only mild symptoms, which decrease with age.


In a small number of cases the symptoms get worse and may interfere with day-to-day life. Examples of more extreme symptoms include:


  • Complex physical movements: (jumping, bending, squatting, stamping, kicking or making obscene gestures)

  • Involuntary throat noises: (barking, snorting, screaming)

  • Repetitive speech: (repeating what other people say or repeating obscene words).

  • What causes Tourette's Syndrome?
    The cause of TS is not fully understood. However it is known that TS stems from the way the brain and spinal cord develop and involves neurotransmitters (chemicals that carry signals within the brain). It is thought possible that some parts of the central nervous system develop unevenly and that this causes the symptoms of TS.


Treating Tourette’s Syndrome

People with mild TS often do not require any treatment and can learn to live with the symptoms. However, support and advice can often be helpful in this process.


A number of medicines can be used if symptoms are more severe.

The medicines used will depend on the nature of the tics and how severe they are. It may be necessary to try several medicines before one that suits the person is found. People with TS may be referred to a variety of different health care professionals for treatment, such as Specialist Neurologists and Neuro Psychologists. At The London Brain Centre specialists work together in a team to provide the best possible care to Tourette’s patients.


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Brain and neurology guide: conditions and treatments