Tourette Syndrome

Tourette Syndrome was named for Georges Gilles de la Tourette, who first
described the syndrome in 1885. Although the disease was identified in 1885,
today in 1996, there still is a mystery surrounding Tourette Syndrome, its
causes and possible cures. Tourette Syndrome is a neurological disorder that
researchers believe is caused by and abnormal metabolism of the
neurotransmitters dopamire and serotonin. It is genetically transmitted from
parent to child. There is a fifty percent chance of passing the gene on from
parent to child (Gaffy,Ottinger). Those most at risk are sons of mothers with
Tourette Syndrome. About three-quarters of Tourette Syndrome patients are male.
Males with the disorder have a ninety-nine percent chance of displaying symptoms.
Females, have a seventy percent chance of displaying symptoms. This ration of
3-4:1 for males and females may be accounted for by referral bias. Also, there
is a frequent number of reported cases within the Mennonite religious isolate
population in Canada. The specific genetic transmission however, has not been
established. Some researchers believe that the mar is on an autosomal dominant
trait. Some cases however are sporadic, and there may not be a link to family
history involved. These cases are mild however, and not full blown. The onset
of Tourette Syndrome must be before the age of fifteen, and usually occurs after
the age of two. The mean age onset of motor tics is seven. The mean age onset
for vocal tics is nine. In order for a person to be classified as having
Tourette Syndrome they must have both multiple motor tics and vocal tics. These
tics however do not have to occur everyday. In fact, affected individuals may
rarely exhibit all of the symptoms, or all of the tics. The vocal and motor tics
must also occur within the same year, for a person to be classified as having
Tourette Syndrome. Symptoms can disappear for weeks or months at a time.
However if people afflicted with the syndrome try and suppress their tics, they
will re occur with increased ferver. Tics increase as a result of tension or
stress, and decrease with relaxation or concentration on absorbing a task.
Tics are classified into two groups: complex and simple tics. Simple
tics are movements or vocalizations which are completely uncomprehendable and
meaningless to those not suffering from the disorder (Peiss). Complex tics are
movements or vocalizations which make use of more than one muscle group to
appear to be meaningful (Peiss). Simple motor tics are: eye blinking, head
jerking, shoulder shrugging or facial grimacing. Simple vocal tics are: throat
clearing, coughing, snorting, baiting, yelping. Examples of complex motor tics
include: jumping, touching over people, and or things, smelling, stomping loudly,
making obscene gestures, hitting or biting oneself. Complex vocal tics are any
understandable words given out of context, and may including echoing and
Other problems associated with Tourette Syndrome include Attention-
Deficit Disorder, Hyperactivity Disorder, disinhibition, obsessive compulsive
disorder, dyslexia and other various learning disabilities, and various sleep
disorders. People with Tourette Syndrome do tend to present more other Axis 1
disorders than the rest of the normal population not afflicted with the syndrome.
People with Tourette Syndrome are also afflicted with obsessions of
contamination, disease, sexual impulses, self harm, being “just right”, and
Sixty percent of those who are diagnosed as having Tourette Syndrome
will also display some type of learning disorder. Such disorders include:
having difficulty organizing work, having difficulty playing quietly, talking
excessively, interrupting and intruding on others, having a shorter attention
span, losing necessary materials for school and home, and engaging in physically
dangerous activity, with no thought given to the ramifications of their actions.
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is also found in sixty percent of those
with Tourette Syndrome. Those with ADHD are easily distracted, has difficulty
getting along in groups, shifts from activity to activity, often blurts out
answers before asked, and fidgets with hands, feet, or squirms in seat.
Although these symptoms may seem fairly similar it Tourette Syndrome, it is
important to remember that Tourette Syndrome is a genetically inherited disease.
These other complexes are merely brought on by the neurological imbalance which
affects the brain of those afflicted.
Tourette Syndrome cannot be treated as a whole. Medications must be
issued for the different aspects of the disease. For example, Tics and
movements are treated with Neuoleptics, Clonidine and SErotonin Drugs, which are
prozac-like. These drugs are very good for treating muscle spasms as well as
tremors. However the side effects may be unpleasant. Therefore the patients
under such drugs must be monitored for the liver and heart. The Medical
Treatment for OCD is augmenting dopamine