Tourette Syndrome is a neurological condition, characterised by a combination of involuntary noises (grunting, coughing or shouting) and movements (jerking of the head or jumping) called tics. It usually starts during childhood and continues into adulthood. In many cases Tourette's syndrome runs in families and it is commonly associated with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The exact cause of the disorder is not known. Tourette's is confirmed when the tics persist for a period of at least 1 year. It is estimated that Tourette's affects 1 child in every 100 and more than 300,000 children and adults in the UK live with the condition. The average age for diagnosis in the UK is 7 years. For about half of children with TS the condition will continue into adulthood. It is more frequently observed in males than in females.
There's no cure for Tourette's syndrome, but treatment can help to control the symptoms. Psychobehavioral therapy is sufficient in case of mild symptoms. Severe and frequent tics are treated with drugs like alpha-2-adrenergic agonists (clonidine), muscle relaxants (baclofen, clonazepam) and dopamine antagonists. Surgery is useful in extreme cases when the patient does not respond to all other forms of therapy. Tourettes Action is a charity that works in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and is the leading support and research charity for people with Tourette Syndrome and their families. Research into genetics, brain imaging, behavioural science, neuroscience and neuropathology is helping scientists to make progress towards understanding the basis of Tourette Syndrome.