Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Brain & Nervous System Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Tourette's Syndrome

What Is Tourette's Syndrome?

Tourette's syndrome is a problem with the nervous system that causes people to make sudden movements or sounds, called tics, that they can't control. For example, someone with Tourette's might blink or clear their throat over and over again. Some people may blurt out words they don't intend to say.

Treatments can control tics, but some people don’t need any unless their symptoms really bother them.

Recommended Related to Brain & Nervous System

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Important It is possible that the main title of the report Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.

Read the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis article > >

About 100,000 Americans have full-blown Tourette's syndrome, but more people have a milder form of the disease. It often starts in childhood, and more boys than girls get it. Symptoms often get better as children grow up. For some people, they go away completely.

Causes

Tourette's has been linked to different parts of the brain, including an area called the basal ganglia, which helps control body movements. Differences there may affect nerve cells and the chemicals that carry messages between them. Researchers think the trouble in this brain network may play a role in Tourette's.

Doctors don't know exactly what causes these problems in the brain, but genes probably play a role. It's likely that there is more than one cause.

People who have family members with Tourette's are more likely to get it themselves. But people in the same family may have different symptoms.

Symptoms

The main symptom is tics. Some are so mild they're not even noticeable. Others happen often and are obvious. Stress, excitement, or being sick or tired can make them worse. The more severe ones can be embarrassing and can affect your social life or work.

There are two types of tics:

Motor tics involve movement. They include:

  • Arm or head jerking
  • Blinking
  • Making a face
  • Mouth twitching
  • Shoulder shrugging

Vocal tics include:

  • Barking or yelping
  • Clearing your throat
  • Coughing
  • Grunting
  • Repeating what someone else says
  • Shouting
  • Sniffing
  • Swearing

Tics can be simple or complex. A simple tic affects one or just a few parts of the body, like blinking the eyes or making a face.

A complex one involves many parts of the body or saying words. Jumping and swearing are examples.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Today on WebMD

nerve damage
Learn how this disease affects the nervous system.
senior woman with lost expression
Know the early warning signs.
 
woman in art gallery
Tips to stay smart, sharp, and focused.
medical marijuana plant
What is it used for?
 
senior man
Article
boy hits soccer ball with head
Slideshow
 
red and white swirl
Article
marijuana plant
ARTICLE
 
brain illustration stroke
Slideshow
nerve damage
Slideshow
 
Alzheimers Overview
Slideshow
Graphic of number filled head and dna double helix
Quiz