Tourette Syndrome has been discussed since its discovery in France in the 19th Century. However, to the present day, people still lack awareness of the disorder. The paper attempts to expand an understanding of the disease by explaining the importance of studying the disorder and its relation to an anatomy and physiology course. It also defines Tourette Syndrome and explains its causes and risk factors. Moreover, the paper discusses the symptoms and diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome and analyzes how hygiene and diet can help alleviate the symptoms. Finally, the paper considers the forms of treatment available for patients with the disorder.
Importance of the Topic
When people hear of Tourette Syndrome, their minds create images of individuals making awkward motions and screaming profanities. However, only persons with the severe form of the disorder exhibit such symptoms. The topic is important as it promotes an understanding of the true nature of the disorder including its symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. The topic relates to the Physiology and Anatomy courses because Tourette Syndrome is primarily a movement disorder (Thomure, 2007). Studying the disease helps comprehend the physiology of patients with the disorder and provides reasons for the occurrence of tics in the patients.
Concept: Summary of Tourette Syndrome
Tourette Syndrome is a brain-based developmental disorder characterized by both vocal and motor tics. Its symptoms include simple motor tics like eye blinking, complex motor tics like biting, simple vocal tics like hiccups, and complex vocal tics like the repetition of one’s words (Christner & Dieker, 2008). The disorder is caused by abnormalities in some regions of the brain like the basal ganglia. However, certain risk factors such as genetic vulnerability also contribute to the development of the disorder. While Tourette Syndrome is not preventable, certain medications like Pimozide are effective in treating the disorder (Kenney, Kuo, & Jimenez-Shahed, 2008). However, in cases where patients have a high severity of tics, Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery is performed to reduce their occurrence.
Causes and Risk Factors
Tourette Syndrome, named after its discoverer French physician George Gilles Torre, is a disease that occurs among children, which is characterized as a neuro-developmental disorder followed by persistent vocal and motor tics that last for more than a year (Thomure, 2007). Tics are sudden, rapid, recurrent, and nonrhythmic motor movements or vocalizations experienced by patients with the disorder. According to Christner & Dieker (2008), Tourette Syndrome is caused by abnormalities in certain brain regions including the frontal lobe, cortex, basal ganglia, and the circuits that interconnect these regions to neurotransmitters like dopamine, which is responsible for communication among nerve cells.
There are certain risk factors for Tourette Syndrome. Genetic vulnerability is one of them. Certain genes can transmit the disorder from parents to their children. A person with the disorder has a 50 percent chance of passing the gene to his or her offspring (Thomure, 2007, p.17). Other risk factors are gestational. They include a pregnant woman experiencing psychosocial stress during the first trimester of pregnancy. The environment a person grows in also poses another risk factor (Thomure, 2007, p.17). The surrounding that causes a person to develop extreme emotional excitement and recurrent daily stresses such as teasing by peers contribute to an increase in chances of a person acquiring Tourette Syndrome.
Diagnosis and Symptoms
Common symptoms of the syndrome are the presence of two types of vocal and motor tics, which are simple and complex. Simple motor tics include eye blinking, knee-jerk, facial twitching, and shoulder shrugging (Christner & Dieker, 2008, p.45). On the other hand, the latter include pinching, cutting, kicking, and biting. Simple vocal tics comprise burping, sniffing, and throat clearing (Christner & Dieker, 2008, p.45). Complex vocal tics include barking, palilalia, which is the repetition of own words, and echolalia, the repetition of others’ words.
In diagnosing the syndrome, doctors examine certain existing conditions in the patient. First, multiple simple and complex chronic motor and any type of vocal tics must be present at some time during the illness. Secondly, the tics must have started before the age of 18 years (Christner & Dieker, 2008, p.45). Third, the tics must happen numerously during a day, almost every day, or in a period of more than a year. Moreover, Tourette Syndrome occurs with other disorders such as obsessive-compulsive and attention-deficit hyperactive diseases (Christner & Dieker, 2008). Their presence in a patient can help in the diagnosis of the Syndrome.
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Prevention and Hygiene
Tourette Syndrome cannot be prevented. However, the early detection of the disorder and its subsequent treatment can reduce the severity of the occurrence of the tics. Maintaining proper hygiene is also important in the management of Tourette Syndrome. Food rich in magnesium, Omega-3 fatty acids, and Vitamin B-6 such as fish and starchy vegetables can help reduce the tics (Thomure, 2007, p.17). On the other hand, patients should avoid food rich in sweeteners and preservatives as they tend to make the tics problem worse. Moreover, the maintenance of good sleep hygiene and regular physical exercise helps in the reduction of the occurrence of tics.
Tourette Syndrome is a lifelong condition that is incurable. However, it is manageable. The need for the treatment of Tourette Syndrome depends on the degree of the symptoms. It is noteworthy that no medication has been developed specifically for reducing the severity of the occurrence of tics. However, drugs developed to treat other medical conditions have proven effective in the suppression of tics. Examples are antipsychotic medications. They are helpful in suppressing tics because of their ability to block dopamine reflectors, therefore, helping reduce excessive movement caused by the syndrome. The most effective antipsychotic medication used in the suppression of tics is Haloperidol. The usual starting dose of the drug is 0.25 to 0.5 mg (Kenney, Kuo, & Jimenez-Shahed, 2008, p.655). However, the conventional treatment ranges from 1 to 5 mg with the maximum recommended dose being 10 mg because Haloperidol is so effective in blocking dopamine that it can cause Parkinson’s disease-like symptoms in the patient(Kenney, Kuo, & Jimenez-Shahed, 2008, p.655). Another antipsychotic medication used to treat Tourette Syndrome is Pimozide. The usual starting dose is 0.5 to 1.0 mg while the usual treatment dose is 1 to 6 mg (Kenney, Kuo, & Jimenez-Shahed, 2008, p.655). The option of surgery is available for patients suffering from severe tics and who do not respond to medications. The type of surgery performed is called the Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS). It is a surgical procedure where an electrode is placed in a particular target spot in the brain, usually, the basal ganglia region as it is hypothesized to be involved in the syndrome (Kenney, Kuo, & Jimenez-Shahed, 2008). When activated, the electrode reduces the neural activity in the region.
The study of Tourette Syndrome creates awareness of the disorder and enables people to understand the physiology of patients suffering from it. Even though Tourette Syndrome is said to be caused by abnormalities in certain brain areas, risk factors such as genetic vulnerability contribute to the development of the syndrome. The disease is characterized by both simple and complex motor and vocal tics. Tourette Syndrome cannot be prevented, but a good diet such as consuming food rich in Vitamin B-6 can reduce the occurrence of tics. Moreover, medications like Haloperidol are effective in the suppression of syndromes. However, if the medications prove to be ineffective for a patient, then surgery is performed.