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Tourette’s Syndrome

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A neurological disorder characterised by involuntary noises and movements known as tics.

SYMPTOMS

Tics are the primary symptom of Tourette’s syndrome, but in order for them to be classified as Tourette’s syndrome, they must be present for at least a year and include a vocal tic. Tics can be categorised into vocal, physical, simple and complex tics. Tics also occur in conjunction with premonitory sensations. These premonitory sensations include a burning sensation in the eyes, muscular tensions, dry/sore throat, and itchy joints/limbs that can only be relieved once the tic has occurred.

CAUSES

The exact cause of Tourette’s syndrome is unclear. However, there are multiple theories regarding the region of the brain known as the basal ganglia. It has been suggested that people with Tourette’s syndrome may have an excess of the neurotransmitter dopamine in this region, or alternatively, have normal levels of dopamine but increased levels of sensitivity to its effects. It is thought that genetics may influence some cases of Tourette’s syndrome, as the condition often runs in families. However, environmental factors may also contribute to the syndromes onset, such as a streptococcal bacterial infection during childhood.

TREATMENT

Treatment for Tourette’s syndrome may help to relieve tics, but rarely completely eradicate them. However, tics are often outgrown by adulthood. Treatment options include behavioural therapy, medication and in extreme cases, surgery.