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Tourette Syndrome by Kelly Peppes

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Thankfully, in the world we live in today, technology is advancing at a very rapid rate, where we are more and more able to help those suffering from diseases and disorders. But many diseases and disorders that people suffer from on a daily basis are difficult to ease pain and suffering, such as Tourette syndrome. Discovered by Georges Gilles de la Tourette in 1857, Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder that develops in a child under the age of eighteen years old, typically between the ages of three and nine. This is a very distinct disorder, as those who have heard of it often associate it with involuntary tics, which are the main symptom of the disorder. Tourette syndrome is often diagnosed by a doctor who has observed a patient dealing with motor or vocal tics for more than a year. And while this disorder is not specific to any ethnicity, it has been shown that TS is much more common is males than in females, by about four times.

As just mentioned, tics are the main symptom of Tourette syndrome. These tics are placed into two categories: complex and simple. The simple tics are quite self explanatory. They include short, abrupt movements that occur repeatedly within a small area of muscle groups. Physical motor tics may include blinking of the eyes, grimacing of the face, shrugging of the shoulders and even jerking of the head. Simple tics may also present symptoms that are vocal such as a persistent grunting or clearing of the throat. Complex tics differ from simple tics because they are more well defined and apparent. The physical motor tics that are considered to be complex combine two or more of the simple tics, such as stomping, a shoulder jerk and a grunt. Complex vocal tics can be separated into those that are mildly inappropriate and murmured to ones self (Coprolalia), or saying this inappropriateness to others (Echolalia.)

While there is no known cause behind Tourette syndrome, there have been researchers working for years to find some sort of link. As of today, research has found that people suffering from TS have some sort of defect within the cortex, frontal lobes and basal ganglia of the brain. It is thought to be that the connections within these parts of the brain, along with the neurotransmitters are having difficulty relaying messages with other nerve cells. And since there is no known cause for this disorder, it is sad to think that there is no cure for it either. Since the majority people living with TS do not acquire damage or injury from their symptoms, medicine is generally not needed. There are ways to lessen the severity of the symptoms though. By controlling certain things such as environment, excitement or anger, or even an inanimate object such as a phone, a person living with TS can experience a more comfortable lifestyle. And for those whose symptoms interfere with daily living, neuroleptics can help. While this medication may help reduce the symptoms of TS, it can cause an array of other problems. The side effects or neuroleptics become increasingly worse as the dose goes higher and higher. It is recommended that treatment with this type of drug start off at a sluggish pace and a low dose. If medications aren’t the direction of desired treatment, behavioral treatment also is shown to help. Helping the patient become aware of their urges and tics has been proven to lessen the severity and number of tics being experienced.


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