Tourette Syndrome

By Patrick Geary

What is Tourette Syndrome?

Tourette Syndrome is a neurological disorder represented by multiple motor and vocal tics. The syndrome effects the basal ganglia a processing center in the brain. The basal ganglia usually helps people learn and regulate different movements and thoughts. But when its not working right it sends false information from the brain to different muscles making them "tic".

Target Population

  • Kids often show the signs of tics at ages 6 or 7, and in many cases the tics lower significantly as they get into the teenage years.
  • Men are 3 to 4 more times likely to have Tourette’s.
  • As stated by Lawrence Scahill, who studies neuropsychiatric disorders at Yale Child Study Center, a possible lower bound for the syndrome is 1 in 1000 people and a possible upper bound is 1 in 100.

Identical twins often share Tourette syndrome, but in about 20% of cases one has the syndrome and the other does not. Even when both have tourette's, their actions with the syndrome can be different. The the lighter twin at birth often has more serious symptoms.


No one really knows what the cause of Tourette Syndrome is, but chemicals from the brain, called dopamine and serotonin, likely have something to do with it. There may also be a genetic link to the syndrome, but some people have no known family history. Scientists are talking that rheumatic fever might have something to do with how people are getting the syndrome.


People who image the brain are making progress in the detection of neural activity that might help with the diagnosis. If you think you have the syndrome, go to your doctor who will most likely ask you about your symptoms and medical history. Then a physical exam will be done. Usually the diagnosis is made by the symptoms alone, but your doctor may also have other tests done to make sure that a different medical condition isn't the reason for the tics.

Signs & Symptoms

    • Tics like blinking and shrugging

    • Blurting out profanities

    • Both motor and vocal tics

    • To have the symptom tic must be:

    • Be present for more than 1 year

    • Start before age 18

    • Not absent at any time for more than 3 months

    • Not be due to a physiological cause like substances or a medical condition

    • Motor tics include:

      • Simple actions like eye blinking, head jerking, arm or shoulder shrugging

      • Complex actions like jumping, smelling, touching things or other people, twirling around

    • Vocal tics include:

      • Simple actions like throat clearing, coughing, sniffing, grunting, yelping, barking

      • Complex action like saying words or phrases that do not make sense in a given situation, saying obscene or socially unacceptable words—called coprolalia


    Even though there is no cure for Tourette Syndrome, treatments are accessible. You can talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Most people with Tourette’s don’t need treatment if their symptoms aren’t problematic. If you go through treatment, education and therapy are usually parts of the plan. Sometimes people also take medication for their treatment.


    I do not know anyone with Tourette’s, but Everton/American National Team goalie, Tim Howard, has the disorder. I picked this condition because I have heard a lot about it, and I wanted to learn more.

    Living with Tourette Syndrome
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    Works Cited

    Olson, Steve. "Making Sense Of Tourette's." Science 305.5689 (2004): 1390. MAS Ultra - School Edition. Web. 28

    Jan. 2016.

    Rosenblum, Laurie, MPH. “ Tourette Syndrome: TS.” Conditions & Procedures InBrief, 1 Jan. 2015. Consumer Health

    Complete- Ebscohost. Web. 28 Jan. 2016.

    "Tourette Syndrome." Overview. 21 Nov. 2015. Web. 28 Jan. 2016.