Producing vocal outbursts constantly seems to be a perilous proposition among children. For others, the hoarse sound is very irritating to the ears. But one cannot blame for this biological and medical cause.
Well that’s the most common rare disorder called as ‘Tourette Syndrome’. It is more rampant amongst females than males. According to estimates, every year there are about 10000 new cases of Tourette Syndrome’ reported alone in the United States.
Gilles de la Tourette, a French neurologist, was the first to discover the unusual symptoms in 1885. Tourette Syndrome is a rare ailment of the nervous system. It is followed by variable expression of unwanted movements and sounds called as ‘tics’.
Even after the discovery by Gilles de la Tourette, medical practitioners have not been able to reveal the real cause. Several theories have been conducted to find out the cause of Tourette Syndrome:
Genetics: Some studies conducted on twins and families suggest that Tourette Syndrome is a hereditary disorder. So far, no specific gene has been discovered.
Brain structure abnormalities: Imaging studies have emerged on the possibility of abnormal structure of the brain. These include the basal ganglia, frontal lobes and cortex.
Brain chemical abnormalities: Some medical studies reveal that it is either because of chemicals in the brain like neuro transmitters, dopamine or serotonin in the nervous system.
The symptoms of Tourette Syndrome begin to show around the age of seven. Tics are the principal symptom of Tourette Syndrome. There are several types of tics to be noticed for detecting Tourette Syndrome.
Simple Motor Tics: These tics are brief muscle contractions of only one or a small number of muscle groups. Eye blinking, head jerking, eye darting and finger flexing are some of the examples.
Complex Motor Tics: These tics involve coordinated contractions of several muscle groups. Example: Nose-touching, touching other people, smelling objects, obscene gestures and flapping of the arms are some of the examples.
Vocal tics use muscles for producing sounds. Vocal tics may be simple or complex.
Simple vocal tics: These include stuttering, stammering, abnormal emphasis of part of a word or phrase and inarticulate noises. Examples: Hiccupping, yelling, throat clearing and barking are signs of simple vocal tics.
Complex vocal tics: These typically involve the involuntary expression of words. These occur in nearly one third of the patients suffering from Tourette Syndrome. Example: Different voice intonations, repeating one’s own or others words or phrases and obscene language are the signs.
Children with Tourette Syndrome normally show the following symptoms:
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Attention Deficient Disorder (ADD)
- Attention deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Self injurious behavior (SIB)
- Learning disabilities
- Behavioral disorders like aggression, anti-social behaviors, severe temper outbursts
- Inappropriate sexual behavior
There is no permanent cure for Tourette Syndrome. The treatment varies from patient to patient. Tourette Syndrome can be controlled in the following treatment options:
Medications: There are several anti-psychotic medications, anti-depressants, stimulant medications and central adrenergic inhibitors. None of them gives a permanent cure. Rather, there are increasing side effects. Psychotherapy: It helps in easing personality and behavioral disorders like ADHD, obsessions, depression and anxiety. By psychotherapy, it helps to patients to cope up emotionally.
Brain surgery: In rare cases, brain surgery has been carried as a basis of experimentation to remove certain brain tissues. But this so far has not been very successful.