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What are the Most Common Tourette Syndrome Symptoms?

Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen

Tourette syndrome symptoms are known as "tics" — involuntary, sudden muscle movements and vocal sounds. Individuals with Tourette syndrome may demonstrate what are known as "simple" tics, using just one small group of muscles, such as repeatedly raising an eyebrow or making small sounds. Complex tics use multiple muscle groups or involve more complex speech. For those with this condition, Tourette syndrome symptoms vary from person to person, and may eventually decrease or become more manageable with age.

Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder commonly associated with its most dramatic, though relatively rare, symptoms of involuntary self abuse, coprolalia, or echolalia. Some individuals with Tourette syndrome will involuntarily hit themselves repeatedly, habitually repeat other people's words, or utter epithets and vulgarities. More often, Tourette syndrome symptoms are less conspicuous and can take the form of "normal" behaviors such as clearing one's throat or shrugging one's shoulders. As a result, some adults with Tourette syndrome become adept at concealing their tics.


Tics can sometimes take on complex patterns, with one tic routinely following another. Tics may arise without cause or warning, or they may occur in response to environmental stimuli. They may also occur more frequently in individuals who are highly stressed or anxious.

Since many people with Tourette syndrome are self-conscious about their Tourette syndrome symptoms and may face social disapproval, the problem of stress and anxiety aggravating the condition becomes a Catch-22: The manifestation of a tic gives rise to anxiety, which increases the likelihood of the tics becoming worse. Some Tourette syndrome advocacy groups try to raise public awareness of Tourette syndrome and tics so the general public becomes more compassionate toward those experiencing tics, reducing the stress, shame and verbal or physical confrontations that many sufferers experience.

Many people describe their Tourette syndrome symptoms as an urge that continues to build until they perform the tic, which provides a sensation of release. As individuals with Tourette syndrome mature, they may develop some control over the expression of a tic, though they may also find that this process is the cause of considerable stress. For this reason, many may choose to use medication or stress-reduction techniques to minimize the occurrence of Tourette syndrome symptoms. Children, on the other hand, may benefit from a specialized education setting that allows the child to complete his education while not being subjected to ongoing harassment about his symptoms.

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