Tics or Tourette’s syndrome?

Posted at 3:23 pm on 01/21/2015 by Powlin V. Manuel
During my practice as a pediatrician for the last 38 years, I found that this is a nagging question in the minds of many patients. With my background in psychology, I try to have an overall look at this question.

Tics or repetitive movement disorders are reported to be present in 5% to 20% of children (Koch, T.F., 2013).
I see patient’s tics showing up vocal (repetitive sounds) and motor (repetitive movements). These can include: blinking of eyes, twitching of hands, shrugging of shoulders, sniffing, snorting, repeating words and others. Most of these children will grow out of this condition. as they become adults (75%). It could be temporary in many children often aggravated by anxiety and may get better within one year. If it lasts more than one year, it is considered permanent. It is called Tourette’s syndrome when it starts before 18 years of age, and present regularly, and causes significant impairment. The condition becomes of increased concern for parents when it is associated with ADHD as stimulant medications used to treat ADHD has a tendency to increase the expression of tics – as both conditions are associated with same neurochemical, dopamine. Many of my patients with ADHD and tics will end up being treated with a non-stimulant group of medication such as Clonidine. Often addition of these mediations to stimulants may also help. Medical treatment is not the only treatment available. In addition to medications, there are behavior therapies to help your children with Tourette’s Syndrome.

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