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Tourette's Syndrome

Gilles de la Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder that involves uncontrollable repetitive movements or abnormal sounds called tics. These tics are rapid movements such as blinking, shrugging the shoulders, or jerking an arm or sounds like humming, clearing the throat, grunting, or yelling out a word or phrase. Tics involved with movement are called motor tics and tics involving sound are called vocal tics. There is no specific cause that results in Tourette's syndrome. It could be either due to inherited gene disorder or certain chemical imbalance in the brain.


People with Tourette's syndrome are not able to control themselves from tics. The condition typically starts in childhood between the ages of 2 and 12. A male child is more likely to develop Tourette's syndrome than a girl child. Tourette's syndrome occurs in people from all ethnic groups. It stays with the person for life. However symptoms are at their peak during the early teens and gradually improve during adulthood. Motor and vocal tics are intensified with fear, stress, apathy, fatigue or excitement. Tics are normally under control when the affected person is asleep.


Simple and complex tics

Tourette's syndrome almost always starts with motor tics and the affected person slowly develops vocal tips too in due course. The symptoms of Tourette's syndrome may range from simple tics to complex ones. Simple motor tics may include only few muscle groups such as eye-blinking, facial grimacing, nose-twitching, head-jerking. Complex tics involve many muscle groups. Complex ones include jumping, touching other people or things or it can even be an extreme tic.

Throat clearing, yelping, sniffing, hissing, barking, coughing and tongue clicking are some of the simple vocal tics while complex vocal tics include uttering words or phrases out of context, Coprolalia (obscene gestures), and echolalia (repeating a sound, word, or phrase just heard).


Treatment

There is no cure for Tourette's syndrome. No intervention is required when the tics are simple and do not affect daily activity. However the affected person as well as the people around him need to be educated about Tourette's syndrome so as to avoid weird reactions. Severe tics may be treated with medication and behavioral therapies. However medications do not help in suppressing the tics completely. Neuroleptics and alpha-adrenergic agonists have been effective in treating severe tics. These medications may lead to certain side effects.


Tranquilizer

Tranquilizers are medications that relieve anxiety and bring about a feeling of wellbeing. Tranquilizers tend to bring about sleep. They depress the nervous system thereby bringing about a calming feeling. They are not available over the counter and are to be bought on prescription only. Persons who regularly take tranquilizers experience lethargy, tremors, nausea, headache, appetite changes and menstrual irregularities. Regular use of tranquilizers can easily lead to dependence as tolerance develops rapidly. Side effects of overuse of tranquilizers are mental confusion, memory loss, difficulty in concentrating and addiction. Withdrawal symptoms of tranquilizers include rapid heartbeat, insomnia, irritability and anxiety.

Minor tranquilizers: These medications are commonly used to treat panic attacks, tension and insomnia. This type of medication is classified as anxiolytics or anti-anxiety agents. Examples of minor tranquilizers are Valium, Restoril, ProSom, Xanax and Ativan.

Major tranquilizers: This group of tranquilizers are neuroleptics and are frequently used before surgical procedures. Often these anti-psychotic drugs are prescribed for mental illnesses such as hallucinations, delusions and paranoia. They affect those receptors in the brain that are known to reduce psychotic thoughts, perceptions and agitation.


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Bibliography / Reference

Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: October 19, 2019