According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, three out of every 1,000 children in the United States ages 6-17 have been diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome. This disease can affect people of all ages and males are diagnosed more than females. In understanding this disease, it is important to get facts. There are a number of misconceptions about Tourette’s including the belief that all who are affected by the disorder shout out curse words and incoherent phrases without control. While this can certainly be considered a symptom of the disease, there are other symptoms and not all patients will exhibit the exact same characteristics. Many do have verbal tics but all people who have Tourette’s do not necessarily shout words and phrases conspicuously.
What is Tourette Syndrome?
Understanding Tourette’s means understanding what the disease is and how it is often diagnosed. Tourette’s is a condition of the central nervous system that causes people to experience tics. These tics can range in frequency as well as severity. A tic can be a movement, twitch or a sound that you make repeatedly and without meaning to do so. People with tics have no control over them and they can happen at any time. You may be able to hold back the tic for a bit, but it will inevitably come back and is often much worse for those who suppress them.
Different Types of Tics
You also need to understand that there are different types of tics. Motor tics are those that involve movement of the body. Blinking, snapping your hands, jerking your arms of legs or consistent shrugging could be considered a motor tic. Vocal tics are those that include sounds. Humming, shouting out words or phrases, clicking the tongue and clearing your throat are all examples of vocal tics. Tics can be simple or complex. Simple tics typically involve just one or two parts of the body. For example, if you are shrugging your shoulders while blinking rapidly then this may be considered a simple tic. If however, you are moving a number of body parts and this movement includes a pattern of some sort, this could be considered a complex tic. Shrugging your shoulders while raising your arms and then suddenly jumping to your feet all in consistent movement is considered a complex tic.
Diagnosing Tourette Syndrome
There is no simple test to diagnose this disorder. Blood tests, EKGs and others are virtually useless when trying to determine whether or not a patient has Tourette Syndrome. The best way to reach an accurate clinical diagnosis is to have your health history and symptoms evaluated by an experienced physician. Once a diagnosis has been obtained, there are a number of treatment methods that can be used to help alleviate the symptoms. Scientists and researchers have no information on what causes Tourette’s. Studies have shown that this can be an inherited disease which means that it can be passed from parents on to their children but more studies are needed in order to determine the specific cause of the disease and any possible way to prevent it in those who are predisposed. One thing that you can do is to learn as much as you can about the disorder. It often helps to read stories by others who have been diagnosed. Sometimes knowing that you are not alone is the best treatment. Touretties by Chris Mason is often recommended by doctors whose patients suffer from Tourette Syndrome. This book contains letters from parents of children with the disease as well as adults who have been diagnosed. It gives you an idea of the difficulties that others have faced trying to come up with the proper diagnosis and helps those with Tourette’s to feel a bit less alone.