A neurological condition, Tourette syndrome is characterized by tics — involuntary movements and vocalizations. These tics can be simple or complex.
When a tic is simple, such as a simple motor tic, they are brief and sudden, as well as repetitive.
When a tic is complex, they involve multiple muscle groups and are coordinated in patterns. With complex vocal tics, it may involve phrases, compared to throat-clearing, which is a simplex vocal tic.
The exact number of people in the United States with Tourette syndrome is not known.
A 2007 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that among children ages 6 through 17 in the United States, 3 in every 1,000 children have Tourette syndrome.
The data for this study was collected through parent reports.
There is no cure for Tourette syndrome. Patients may take medications to help with symptoms interfering in their everyday functioning.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke noted that neuroleptics are “the most consistently useful medications for tic suppression.”
However, a medication that helps one patient with Tourette syndrome may not help another.
The medications prescribed for tic suppression may cause several side effects. For example, pimozide and fluphenazine may cause dulling of the mind and weight gain, according to MayoClinic.com.
One option that is showing promise for treating Tourette syndrome is behavioral therapy.
Sabine Wilhelm, Ph.D., director and the OCD and Related Disorders Program at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and colleagues conducted a study on behavioral therapy in Tourette syndrome.
Wilhelm explained to HealthDay News that “behavior therapy takes a different approach from medication. Patients often report a premonitory urge — that’s an unpleasant sensation — prior to engaging in the tic, and they engage in tics in order to relieve the urge. Behavior therapy helps patients to disrupt this pattern.