Tourette Syndrome

Tourette syndrome (not to be mistaken for Turcot syndrome!) is a relatively common disease that is relatively well-known among the laymen, particularly by its frequent occurrence in films and other TV shows.


The disease belongs among the neuropsychiatric disorders. Its essence is not entirely clear, but there is probably strong effect of genetic predisposition. The disorder occurs primarily in children and it mitigates or completely disappears during adolescence. It is assumed that this disorder affected even many well-known historical figures, such as W.A. Mozart.


Tourette syndrome manifests by so-called tics. Tics are sudden compulsive activities that can not be controlled voluntarily. The activities include different movements or shouting various sounds and words. In addition, the patients suffer from symptoms of hyperactivity. Coprolalia, i.e. shouting obscene words and profanities, is a well-known symptom, but it occurs only in some forms of the syndrome. The majority of patients suffer from motoric disorders manifesting with irregular twitches of various body parts. The tics are preceded by insistent urge, which is irresistible. It is a feeling of internal pressure, which is channeled through the tick. The urge and frequency of tics may be exacerbated by stressful situations.


The diagnosis is based on neurologic and psychiatric examination. The patients may undergo EEG exam and brain examination by an imaging method (computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging) to rule out organic brain diseases and epilepsy. However, many mild cases of Tourette syndrome may even stay undiagnosed.


The treatment depends on the severity of symptoms. Mild cases of Tourette syndrome are not treated as they usually resolve spontaneously over time. More severe cases affecting the individual’s social life are treated either with psychotherapy or by psychiatric medicines (especially antipsychotics) or by combination of both methods.


Jiri Stefanek, MD  Author of texts: Jiri Stefanek, MD
 Sources: basic text sources