Top of the page
Tourette's disorder is a brain condition that starts in childhood. Children with Tourette's make sounds or movements—such as coughing or twitching—that they can't control. These are called tics.
Tics usually start at about age 2. They may be at their worst by age 12. Tics tend to decrease during teenage years. They can continue into adulthood but occur less often and are less severe than in childhood.
Tourette's tends to run in families. Other things that may increase the risk include:
Most children with Tourette's have different patterns of tics. The tics may not be obvious. They can be bursts of movement or sounds that last for seconds or minutes.
Tics can include:
It's common for a person who has Tourette's to feel an urge in some part of the body that builds and builds. This urge can only be relieved by performing the tic. But not everyone with the disorder is aware of these urges.
A doctor can diagnose Tourette's based on your child's medical history and symptoms. The doctor may want to know if tics are causing school or social problems for your child.
There are no tests to diagnose Tourette's. But in some cases an electroencephalogram (EEG), a MRI, or blood tests may be done to check for other health problems. Your doctor may also check for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or other learning or behaviour problems. These problems sometimes occur along with Tourette's disorder.
Treatment for Tourette's disorder focuses on helping your child cope with the tics. Understanding how tics affect your child can help you and your child know what to expect. It may help to identify when tics occur and what is going on in your child's life during those times.
If tics are seriously affecting your child's quality of life at home or school, then counselling, behavioural therapy to reduce tics ( habit reversal), and medicines may help. If your child has other medical problems, these may need to be treated first to see how they affect your child's symptoms.
Despite what you might have seen in movies or on TV, most people with Tourette's disorder don't have uncontrollable outbursts of cursing or sexual behaviour.
As your child ages, the pattern of tics can change. Tics may come and go over weeks and months. They may also change from one kind to another. Tics may get worse and then get better. Your child may get a new tic, or an old one may come back.
Tics may get worse for no reason. Your child may try to suppress tics, which may make them last longer or be worse than at other times. They may also get worse when your child is ill, under stress, or excited.
Having Tourette's doesn't have to mean that your child will have social problems or trouble in school. You can help your child learn to cope with tics. Start by learning more about Tourette's and being supportive at home. Work with your child's teachers so they can understand how tics affect your child.
Current as of: May 28, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: John Pope, MD, MPH - PediatricsDonald Sproule, MDCM, CCFP - Family MedicineE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineKarin M. Lindholm, DO - NeurologyLouis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics
Current as of: May 28, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:John Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics & Donald Sproule, MDCM, CCFP - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Karin M. Lindholm, DO - Neurology & Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2019 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.