Gilles de la Tourette's Syndrome

Gilles de la Tourette's Syndrome: Living with a Tic Disorder

Gilles de la Tourette's Syndrome is a disorder named after French neurologist Dr. Georges Gilles de la Tourette. It is characterized by a combination of vocal and motor tics that last for more than a year. It is the most common tic-disorder and affects both adults and children. People with Tourette's Syndrome make repetitive and sometimes sudden movements or sounds to express themselves and can have difficulty completing simple tasks.

Tourette's Syndrome can range from mild to severe, meaning that some people may only have mild tic symptoms that involve facial twitching or blinking, whereas others may have more severe tics that involve frequent and disruptive movements or vocalizations. The severity and type of tics can vary from person to person and can change over time. Common tics can include:

  • Grunting sounds
  • Repetitive throat clearing
  • Sniffing
  • Facial grimacing
  • Shoulder shrugging
  • Eyelid blinking
  • Grunting sounds
  • Head shaking, nodding, or jerking
  • Touching oneself or others
  • Hitting, punching, kicking, or jumping
  • Repetitive movement of hands, feet, or arms

People with Tourette's Syndrome may experience other problems along with their tics, such as difficulty with attention, executive functioning skills, and maintaining relationships. People with Tourette's may also have co-occurring conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, and anxiety.

Tourette's occurs in 3-4% of the population and is more common in males than females. It typically begins between the ages of 3 and 9, but may begin as early as childhood or as late as adulthood. While it is estimated that Tourette's Syndrome affects more than 200,000 people in the United States, the actual number is likely much higher due to misdiagnosis and under-reporting.

People who have mild tic disorders typically don't need medical treatment. However, those who have more severe symptoms may benefit from medications, therapy, or other treatments. For instance, certain medications have been found to help reduce tics, while cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as manage triggers that might cause tic episodes. Various lifestyle modifications, such as regular exercise and relaxation techniques, can also help to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as help to manage tics.

Living with Tourette's Syndrome can be very challenging, but people with this disorder can achieve success and lead fulfilling lives. By educating yourself on Tourette's and understanding your options for treatment and management, you can take steps towards achieving better control of your tics.