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What’s behind your unusual tics? – If it’s not Autism spectrum disorder

No Kidding You Can Develop Tourette's Symptoms Overnight

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Aakash Molpariya
Aakash started in Nov 2018 as a writer at Revyuh.com. Since joining, as writer, he is mainly responsible for Software, Science, programming, system administration and the Technology ecosystem, but due to his versatility he is used for everything possible. He writes about topics ranging from AI to hardware to games, stands in front of and behind the camera, creates creative product images and much more. He is a trained IT systems engineer and has studied computer science. By the way, he is enthusiastic about his own small projects in game development, hardware-handicraft, digital art, gaming and music. Email: aakash (at) revyuh (dot) com

Do you find yourself obsessively making weird noises or twitching, shaking the head, shrugging the shoulders, touching the nose — maybe even without realizing you’re doing it?

Preventive medicine physicians and wellness experts, say these habits warrant more than just occasional stuff. 

For most people, tics seem like an occasional thing. When people can’t stop the behavior on their own, doctors consider it a type of body-focused repetitive behavior (BFRB).

Experts refer to tics as Tourette syndrome and they don’t fully understand the cause (though there may be a genetic component).

A tic can be anything from a noise, twitch or cough, to rapid head movements, finger clicks, deep breaths and whistles. It gets worse when you’re stressed, sick, nervous or excited, and everyone’s different.

Tourette syndrome

The Tourette syndrome is a disorder characterized by the appearance of unwanted repetitive movements or sounds that can not be easily controlled. These tics can be, for example, moving the hands in a certain way, blinking, rolling the shoulders or even saying offensive words. They are sudden, brief and intermittent and usually appear for the first time between the ages of 2 and 15, the most common mean age being 6 years.

This condition has no cure and does not pose a danger to the physical health of the patient. However, because Tourette syndrome can affect communication and socialization in people, it can be a challenge for the mental health and self-esteem of those who suffer from it.

Some of the diseases commonly associated with Tourette’s syndrome are attention deficit disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD), learning difficulties, depression, headaches, and anger management problems.

Tourette syndrome symptoms

Symptoms of Tourette syndrome are sudden, brief, and intermittent tics. They are usually preceded by an uncomfortable bodily sensation, such as an itching or tingling that makes, once the tic manifests itself, relief is felt. These can be classified into two types:

– Simple tics: They involve a limited number of muscle groups. Some of them can be blinking the eyes, shaking the head, shrugging the shoulders, touching the nose or another part of the face, or making movements with the mouth, among others.

– Complex tics: They involve several muscle groups. Some of the most common are touching or smelling objects, repeating observed movements, making obscene gestures, jumping, bending or turning, and walking in a certain pattern.

Also, we can distinguish between muscle tics and vocal tics. The former usually appear before the latter but it is essential to understand that the spectrum of tics that people with Tourettes experience throughout their lives is very diverse.

Within the vocal tics we can also distinguish between simple and complex. While the former can be simple puffs or clarifications of throat, the complexes are made up of words or phrases. Sometimes these can appear in the form of masonic words or insults.

Causes

In general, there are no specific causes why a person may be more likely to develop Tourette syndrome. However, the Tourette Association assures that in general, there is a history of tics, Tourette syndrome, ADHD or OCD in the family. 

In addition, this syndrome other tic disorders, which occur equally in all ethnic groups, usually affect men between 3 and 4 times more than women.

Treatment

Typically, if the tics are mild or moderate, no treatment is necessary. However, when these become problematic and interfere with the individual’s daily life, a behavioral treatment or medication can be considered.

Some currently available therapies are:

– Deep brain stimulation

– Medicines

– Behavior modification

– Speech therapies

As explained by the Tourette Association, “haloperidol (Haldol), pimozide (Orap), and aripiprazole (Abilify) are currently the only drugs approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat tics. 

Image Credit: iStock

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