The young boy sat on a wooden chair, with eyes raised up,he starts to blink his eyes,almost simultaneously he hurls curses at a nearby passerby, within the next minute he shrugs his thin shoulders repeatedly, his parents are embarrassed, they quickly rush him out of the scene and into the room. What on earth could be the cause of this boy’s strange disease?, his mother asked, the boy’s father looks up as if the answers would fall from the sky.
The above scene could be strange to majority of us while a few might be able to relate. In any case, just only a few know of the disease called Tourette Syndrome,also called (TS).What is “TS”?. What are the symptoms of Tourette Syndrome?. What could be the causes of “TS”?. Are there any known cure?. What are the effects of this disease?. These and many more questions are likely racing through your mind, do not worry much, get yourself into a comfortable niche and try as much as possible to enjoy the ride!.
Tourette syndrome was named by French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot for his intern, Georges Gilles de la Tourette , who published in 1885 an account of nine patients with a “convulsive tic disorder”. Although the disease was once considered as a rare disease, recent statistics show that about 1% of children and adults exhibit symptoms associated with Tourette Syndrome, thereby giving the disease an increasing popularity. In Nigeria, there are more than 100 thousand cases of Tourette syndrome per year.
The major symptoms associated with Tourette Syndrome are known as tics.What are tics?. Tics involve making repeated movements and sounds which are uncontrollable. In other words, they are rapid movements or sounds that are repeated over and over for no reason. A person with a tic cannot control the movement or sounds. They include
Blurting out offensive or unusual sounds
TOURETTE SYNDROME DEFINITION
“TS” is a nervous system disorder that affects the brain and nerves and causes uncontrollable symptoms known as motor and vocal tics. Normally tics is a common occurrence among children, whether he/she has Tourette Syndrome or not. However, tics associated with Tourette Syndrome usually start when the child is between 5-10 years,intensify over the ages,9-13, and may go away over time. It is to be noted though,that not all who have tics have ‘TS”.
EPILEPSY OR TOURETTE’S SYNDROME?
Tourette’s is usually associated with tics, whereas epilepsy is associated with seizures. Although both diseases stem from the disorder of the central nervous system(CNS), epilepsy is related to abnormal brain activity. The causes of epilepsy could vary from stoke to brain tumour, brain infection and others.
A seizure is a sudden uncontrolled electrical disturbance in the brain, which involve a period of symptoms such as uncontrolled shaking movements coupled with loss of consciousness or a subtle momentary loss of awareness. Most seizures last from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. A seizure that last for more than 5 minute is referred to as a case of medical emergency.
CAUSES OF “TS”
There is no known cause for Tourette syndrome and hence it cannot be prevented or avoided. Although researchers are of the opinion that “TS” is a combination of inherited (genetic) and environmental factors. Chemicals in the brain that transmit nerve impulses (neurotransmitters), including dopamine and serotonin might play a role.
However, if there is a family history of Tourette syndrome, it is very likely that a child in the family show symptoms of the syndrome. Perhaps it is more intriguing that males are about 3-4 times more likely than females to develop Tourette syndrome.
Tourette syndrome cannot be diagnosed by any lab test. It is usually suspected and likely confirmed after a series of examination in which the symptoms are examined and those not related are ruled out accordingly, to determine whether it is a possible “TS” syndrome case or not.
EFFECTS OF TOURETTE SYNDROME
The symptoms associated with “TS” called tics can have effects on a person physical, mental and emotional well-being, the behavioural and social challenges associated with Tourette Syndrome can harm victim’s self-image. While there are other conditions that are associated with children having “TS”, these conditions include
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Obsessive Compulsive disorder (OCD)
Severe symptoms might significantly interfere with communication and quality of life.
There is no known cure for “TS”, and many people with the syndrome do not need treatment if symptoms are not troublesome, most symptoms lessen or become controlled after teen years. However, behavioural therapy could be useful,there are also some medications that could help but the side effects of these medications are worse than the symptoms themselves.
Hmmm..really exhausted right?. I hope however, you have satisfied your curiosity as regards the TOURETTE SYNDROME, it has been quite a ride, thanks for reading the article to the end, and stay blessed.
AYODELE OLUWATAYO. M
University of Medical Sciences, Ondo State, NIGERIA.