Can tics start in teenage years

Tourette syndrome


Tourette's (zu-RET) syndrome is a nervous system (neurological) disorder that begins in childhood. It is about unusual repetitive movements or unwanted noises that cannot be controlled (tics). For example, you can keep blinking your eyes, shrugging your shoulders, or jerking your head. In some cases it may inadvertently blurt out offensive words.

Signs and symptoms of Tourette's syndrome usually show up between the ages of 2 and 12, with the average around 7 years of age. The males are about three to four times more likely than females to develop Tourette's syndrome.

While there is no cure out there, one can live a normal life expectancy with Tourette syndrome, and many people with Tourette syndrome don't need treatment if the symptoms are not bothersome. Symptoms of Tourette's syndrome often decrease or become too calm and controlled after the teenage years.


Tourette syndrome. Write down any symptoms experienced.

Tics - sudden, short, intermittent movements or sounds - are the hallmark signs of Tourette's syndrome. Symptoms range from mild to severe. Severe symptoms can significantly interfere with communication, daily functioning, and quality of life.

Tics are classified as either:

  • Simple tics, that are immediate, short, and repetitive, with a limited number of muscle groups
  • Complex tics, which are different, coordinated movement patterns that affect multiple muscle groups

Tics with movement (motor tics) - often facial tics, like blinking - usually start before vocal tics do. But the range of tics that people experience is diverse, and there is no typical case.

Common motor tics seen in Tourette syndrome
Simple ticsComplex tics
Wink Touching the nose
Head jerking Touch other people
Shrug Smell objects
Eye stinging Obscene gestures
Fingers moved Flapping arms
Sticking your tongue out Jump
Common vocal tics seen in Tourette syndrome
Simple ticsComplex tics
hiccup With different voices
shouting Repetition of your own words or sentences
Clear throat Repetition of other words or phrases
Barking With vulgar, obscene or sweary words

In addition, if you have Tourette Syndrome, your tics may:

  • Vary in type, frequency and severity
  • Worsen when you are sick, stressed, anxious, tired, or upset
  • Occur during sleep
  • Evolve into different tics over time
  • Worsen during teenage years and improve during transition into adulthood

Before the onset of motor or vocal tics, you will likely experience an urge called a premonitory urge. A cautionary urge is an uncomfortable physical sensation, such as an itch, tingling sensation, or tension. Expression of the tic brings relief.

With great effort, some people with Tourette Syndrome can temporarily stop a tic or withhold tics until they find a place where it is less bothersome to express them.

When to the doctor
If you notice your child displaying involuntary movements or noises, make an appointment with your pediatrician. Not all tics give Tourette syndrome.

Many children developing tics take a few weeks or months that go away on their own. But when a child shows unusual behavior, it's important to have a medical exam to identify the cause and rule out serious health problems.


The exact cause of Tourette's syndrome is unknown and there is no known way to prevent it. Tourette's syndrome is a complex one, likely caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Theories about the causes of the Tourette include:

  • Genetics. Tourette syndrome can be an inherited condition. The specific genes involved in Tourette syndrome are still being defined, although a genetic mutation has been identified as a rare cause of Tourette syndrome.
  • Brain abnormalities. Certain chemicals in the brain that transmit nerve impulses (neurotransmitters) may play a role, including dopamine and serotonin.

Risk factors

Risk factors for Tourette syndrome include:

  • Family story. Having a family history of Tourette syndrome or other tic disorders can increase your risk of developing Tourette syndrome.
  • As a male. Males are about three to four times more likely than females to develop Tourette's syndrome.


People with Tourette syndrome have normal life expectancies and often lead healthy, active lives. However, having Tourette's syndrome can increase your risk of learning, behavioral, and social challenges that can damage your self-image.

In addition, having Tourette syndrome means you are likely to have other conditions too, such as: B .:

  • Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Learning disabilities
  • sleep disorders
  • depression
  • Anxiety disorders

Prepare for the appointment

You will likely start through your family doctor or pediatrician. However, in some cases, if you make an appointment, you can immediately be referred to a doctor who specializes in nervous system conditions (neurologist).

Here is some information to help you prepare for your appointment.

What you can do

  • Write down any symptoms experienced as well any seem unrelated to the reason why you scheduled the appointment.
  • Write down important personal information any major tensions or recent life changes.
  • Make a list of all medications Vitamins or supplements currently being made.
  • Write down questions Your doctor ask.
  • Take a video recording if you have a video camera, a typical tic to show the doctor.
Prepare for the appointment. Write down important personal information.

Prepare a list of questions for your doctor so that you can get the most of your time together. List your questions from most to least important. For Tourette syndrome, some basic questions to ask your doctor are:

  • Is this condition likely to be temporary, long-term, or lifelong?
  • What's the best course of action?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed materials I can take home? Which websites do you recommend?
  • What family and patient support groups are there in my area for people with this diagnosis?

Don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment if you don't understand something or need more information.

What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor will likely ask you a number of questions, including:

  • When did the symptoms start?
  • Have the symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • How severe are the symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to be improving symptoms?
  • What, if anything, seems to make the symptoms worse?

Examinations and diagnostics

There is no specific test that can diagnose Tourette syndrome. Instead, doctors need to be instructed about the history of symptoms in order to diagnose the disorder.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) determines the criteria for a diagnosis of Tourette's syndrome. Published by the European Psychiatric Association, the DSM is used by mental health professionals to diagnose certain conditions and to reimburse insurance companies for treatment.

The criteria for diagnosing Tourette's syndrome are these:

  • Both motor tics and vocal tics must be present, though not necessarily at the same time.
  • Tics occur several times a day, almost every day, or intermittently, for more than a year. There must be no break in tics for more than a three month period.
  • The onset of tics occurs before the age of 18.
  • Tics are not caused by drugs, other substances, or any other medical condition.

Diagnosing Tourette syndrome can be delayed because families and even doctors are sometimes unfamiliar with the symptoms, or the symptoms can mimic other problems. Winking in the eye can initially be associated with impaired vision, for example, while sniffing can be attributed to allergies.

Because other serious health conditions can cause motor or vocal tics, your doctor may suggest testing to rule out other causes. These tests include blood tests or imaging tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Treatments and Drugs

There is no cure for Tourette syndrome. Treatment is intended to help control tics that interfere with everyday activities and function. If tics are not severe, treatment may be unnecessary.

No drug is helpful to everyone with Tourette's syndrome, any symptoms are completely eliminated, and they all have side effects to be weighed against the benefits.

Possible medications to help control or minimize tics, or to reduce symptoms of associated conditions - such as attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) - include:

  • Drugs or block that break down the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain, like fluphenazine, haloperidol (Haldol) or pimozide (Orap). Used to control tics, these drugs can have side effects such as weight gain and a dulling of the mind.
  • Botulinum toxin type A (botox) injections. For simple or vocal tics, an injection into the affected muscle can help reduce the tic.
  • Stimulant drugs like Methylphenidate (Concerta, Ritalin, among others) and those containing dextroamphetamine (Adderall XR, Dexedrine, among others). These are used to help increase alertness and focus for people with ADHD.
  • Central adrenergic inhibitors such as Clonidine (Catapres) or guanfacine (Tenex). Typically prescribed for high blood pressure, these drugs can help control behavioral problems, such as impulse control problems and tantrums. Side effects can include drowsiness.
  • Antidepressants like Fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem, etc.). These can help control symptoms of sadness, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.


  • Psychotherapy. In addition, we can help you cope with Tourette's syndrome, psychotherapy or talk therapy with accompanying problems such as ADHD, obsessions, depression or anxiety.
  • Behavior therapy. A form of behavior therapy called habit reversal training can help reduce tics. With this therapy, you monitor tics and identify premonitory calls - those uncomfortable sensations that occur before the tic. You learn to respond to those urges voluntarily moving in a way that does not respond with the tic, the tic that is suppressed.
  • Deep brain stimulation. For severe tics that don't respond to other drugs, deep brain stimulation (DBS) can help. DBS consists of implanting a battery-powered medical device (neurostimulator) in the brain to deliver electrical stimulation to specific areas necessary for movement. More research is needed to determine whether DBS benefits people with Tourette syndrome.

See also

Dealing and support

Your self-esteem can suffer as a result of Tourette's syndrome. You can be embarrassed about your tics. You are welcome to get involved in social activities, such as dating or going out in public. This puts you at increased risk of depression and substance abuse.

To cope with Tourette's syndrome:

  • Note that tics are often better as you get older. Tics usually peak in early teen midteens.
  • Reach out to other Coping with Tourette Syndrome for information, dealing tips, and support.

Children with Tourette's Syndrome
School can present special challenges for children with Tourette's syndrome.

To help your child:

  • Get informed. Learn as much as you can about Tourette Syndrome. Talk to your doctor about any questions you have.
  • Feed your child's self-esteem Support your child's personal interests and friendships -. Both can help improve self esteem.
  • Be the advocate for your child. Help educate teachers, school bus drivers, and others your child interacts with on a regular basis.
  • Find a support group. To help you cope, find a local Tourette syndrome support group. If there are none, create such a group.