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Tourette Syndrome in Adults

Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju
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Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

Tourette Syndrome is a neurological condition. It’s characterized by repetitive, involuntary movements and vocalizations known as twitches. They can range from mild to severe. They also impact a person’s daily life, including work and relationships. TS is often associated with children. But around 10-15% of individuals with TS experience signs in adulthood.

Tourette Syndrome in adults presents unique challenges and considerations. Adults with it may have different experiences and needs than children. They may experience more complex twitches. It can be particularly distressing in social or professional situations. Adults may also face stigma and discrimination in life. Despite these challenges, many adults with TS can lead successful and fulfilling lives.

Diagnosis and management of Tourette Syndrome in adults typically involve a combination of: 

  • Medication.
  • Behavioral therapy.
  • Lifestyle modifications. 

People with TS need access to education and resources. They help better understand the condition and its management. In this article, we’ll focus on the most important aspects of the condition.

What Is Tourette Syndrome?

It is a neurological condition. It causes repetitive, involuntary movements and sounds. The condition has a name after the French neurologist Dr. Georges Gilles de la Tourette. He first described the symptoms of Tourette Syndrome in adults and children in 1885.

Doctors divide this disease into two categories. The first category includes motor problems. This category includes movements such as blinking, grimacing, or twitching the head.

The second category includes vocal problems. These can be sounds like throat clearing, grunting or screaming. Often these sounds can differ in frequency of occurrence and severity of manifestation. Doctors believe that these problems may be due to stress, anxiety, or excitement.

Most often, doctors diagnose Tourette’s disease in children or adolescents. Most often, the first signs of the disease appear from 2 to 15 years. It’s known that boys are more prone to this disease than girls.

Today, doctors cannot identify the exact cause of the disease. But many cite a combination of genetic and environmental factors as the cause. Some studies have come to the conclusion that abnormalities in certain brain chemicals, such as dopamine, may play a role.

It’s now known that people with Tourette’s disorder may also experience other conditions. This:

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
  • anxiety states.

They can further affect a person’s quality of life. And they can make it harder to diagnose and treat the condition.

There is no cure, but there are a variety of tic disorder treatments that can help manage signs. Medications, such as antipsychotics or alpha-2 agonists, may reduce spasms. Behavioral therapy can also be effective in managing symptoms of Tourette Syndrome in adults and children.

What Сauses Tourettes?

The exact cause is not fully understood. And research continues to shed light on the mechanisms that develop this condition. But genetic and environmental factors likely interact to cause the condition. But the condition is not caused by poor parenting. And it’s not a result of psychological or emotional problems.

It is also worth noting that spasms are not contagious. People can’t catch them or transmit them from one person to another. In the following blocks, we will focus on the common causes of Tourette’s disorder.

Genes

Research suggests that the condition may be inherited in some cases. Up to 50% of individuals with the condition have a family member with this illness. But not all cases are inherited. And it’s believed that some genes may be involved in the development of the condition.

Environmental Factors

Besides genetics, environmental factors may also play a role in the development. Streptococcal infections are usually linked to the onset of the condition. It’s known as pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric conditions associated with streptococcal infections (PANDAS).

Abnormalities in Certain Brain Chemicals

Abnormalities in certain brain chemicals are also implicated in the development of the condition. They are dopamine and serotonin. They’re involved in the regulation of movement and mood. And disruptions in their functioning may contribute to the motor and vocal twitches.

symptoms of tourette syndrome in adults

Symptoms of Tourette Syndrome in Adults

Signs in adults can vary widely in severity and frequency, and may include:

  • Motor spasms. Repetitive, involuntary movements include eye blinking, facial grimacing, or head jerking. They may be simple or complex and may involve many body parts.
  • Vocal twitches. Repetitive, involuntary sounds or speech, such as throat clearing, grunting, or shouting. They may be simple or complex and may involve words or phrases.
  • Coprolalia. Involuntary use of obscene or socially inappropriate language or gestures. This rare Tourette’s symptom occurs in less than 10% of individuals.
  • Echolalia. Involuntary repetition of words or phrases spoken by others.
  • Palilalia. Involuntary repetition of one’s own words or sounds.
  • Complex spasms. They involve a combination of motor and vocal signs. They are also more elaborate, such as twirling or jumping.
  • Anxiety and depression. Individuals with Tourette’s disorder may be more likely to experience anxiety and depression. It’s partly due to the social and emotional challenges associated with the condition.
  • ADHD. Many individuals also have ADHD. It can further impact their ability to focus and regulate their behavior.
  • OCD. Some individuals may also have OCD. Intrusive thoughts and repetitive behaviors characterize it.

It is important to note that Tourette’s symptoms can be highly variable and may change over time. Also, some individuals may be able to suppress their twitches for short periods. 

But they may experience a release of spasms when they are alone or in a relaxed state. Treatment involves a combination of medication, behavioral therapy, and lifestyle modifications. Doctors should tailor it to the individual’s unique needs and signs.

TIC Disorder Treatment in Adults

There is currently no cure. But treatment can be effective in helping individuals manage their signs. It helps to improve their quality of life. Individuals need to work closely with a healthcare professional. It helps to develop a personalized treatment plan. With the right treatment, many individuals can lead fulfilling lives.

Treatment for Tourette Syndrome in adults can involve a variety of approaches. They include medication, behavioral therapy, and lifestyle modifications. 

It is vital to note that therapy should be also tailored to the individual’s unique signs. Not all individuals will need medication. And behavioral therapy and lifestyle and food modifications may be enough for some. Also, some individuals may find that their signs improve or resolve over time.

Medication

Many medications can help manage spasms in adults with Tourette Syndrome. These may include antipsychotics. It can help reduce the frequency and intensity of twitches. And alpha-2 agonists can help regulate levels of neurotransmitters involved in signs. Also, botulinum toxin injections may help. They target specific muscle groups and reduce twitches severity.

Lifestyle Modifications

Certain lifestyle modifications may also be helpful. They manage signs of Tourette Syndrome in adults. These can include stress reduction techniques. Those are meditation or yoga, regular exercise, and emotional health. Also, healthy sleep habits can help.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy can be effective in helping adults with Tourette’s disorder learn strategies for managing their spasms and improving functioning. Habit reversal therapy is commonly used for the condition. It involves identifying triggers and learning alternative behaviors to replace them. Cognitive behavioral therapy can also be useful. It helps individuals manage anxiety and depression related to their condition.

tourettes-diagnosis

Tourettes Diagnosis

The diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome in adults can be challenging. The condition can be highly variable in terms of sign presentation and severity. There is no single diagnostic test. And the diagnosis is typically made based on a combination of:

  • Clinical history.
  • Physical examination.
  • Diagnostic criteria.

The criteria for diagnosing Tourette’s disorder include:

  • The presence of many motor spasms and at least one vocal twitch present at some time during the illness.
  • Tics have persisted for more than one year since the first spasm onset.
  • The onset of twitches occurs before the age of 18.
  • Tics are not due to the effects of a substance (e.g., stimulants). Or twitches due to another medical condition (e.g., Huntington’s disease).

A diagnosis of Tourettes may also involve ruling out other causes of spasms. They’re medication side effects, substance use, or other neurological or psychiatric conditions.

A healthcare professional will typically begin with a detailed clinical history. This includes questions about spasm signs’ onset, duration, and characteristics. A physical examination may also help to assess for any neurological conditions. They may be contributing to Tourette’s symptoms.

In some cases, extra testing may be good. This can be neuroimaging studies or laboratory tests. They help to rule out other medical conditions.

It is important to note that the diagnosis of TS is not always straightforward. And people with milder or atypical signs may not meet all the diagnostic criteria. Then, a professional in the diagnosis of twitches can help guide the diagnostic process. And they develop an appropriate tic disorder treatment plan.

How to Live the Fullest Life with Tourette Syndrome?

Living a fulfilling life with this condition can be challenging. But it is certainly possible. Here are some strategies that may help individuals live their fullest life:

  • Seek Support. Connecting with others with this condition or other illnesses can be helpful. This provides community and opportunities to share tips and coping strategies. Support groups, online forums, and advocacy organizations can all be helpful resources.
  • Develop Coping Strategies. It is important to develop effective tic disorder treatment strategies for managing spasms. This may involve identifying triggers, learning relaxation techniques to reduce stress, and developing alternative behaviors to replace twitches.
  • Focus on Strengths. While TS can be challenging, focusing on one’s strengths and abilities is important. Individuals with Tourette’s disorder may have unique talents and strengths. Creativity or empathy can be leveraged to build a fulfilling life.
  • Pursue Meaningful Activities. Engaging in activities that are personally meaningful and fulfilling can help improve well-being. This may involve pursuing hobbies, volunteering, or pursuing a career. It aligns with one’s interests and strengths.
  • Communicate with Others. Communicating honestly about the condition with family, friends, and coworkers helps reduce stigma. And it increases understanding. It can also help individuals feel more comfortable and supported.
  • Take Care of Physical and Emotional Health. Taking care of one’s physical and emotional health is important. It’s vital for managing Tourette’s symptoms and improving quality of life. It may involve exercise, healthy eating and support from a mental health professional.

Conclusion

In conclusion, TS is a complex illness. It often starts in childhood and continues into adulthood. The condition is commonly associated with motor and vocal spasms. But it can also lead to other behavioral and emotional problems. TS can be challenging to manage. But treatments such as medication and therapy can help manage signs.

FAQs

  • Can Tourette Syndrome in adults develop later in life?

While TS is often diagnosed in childhood, it can develop later in life. In fact, some people with TS may not even be aware they have the condition until adulthood.

  • What impact does Tourette Syndrome in adults have on daily life?

Tourette Syndrome in adults can have a significant impact on daily life. It depends on the severity and frequency of the tics. It can affect relationships, social interactions, and job performance. And it can also cause physical discomfort and fatigue.

  • Are there any lifestyle changes that can help manage Tourette Syndrome in adults?

A healthy lifestyle, regular exercise, a balanced diet, and good sleep habits may help. It reduces the severity of tics. And it improves well-being in people with Tourette Syndrome in adults.

  • Are there any support groups for people with Tourette Syndrome in adults?

There are many support groups and resources available for people with Tourette Syndrome. It includes the Tourette Association of America and local support groups. These groups can provide information, advice, and emotional support.

  • Can Tourette Syndrome in adults be mistaken for other conditions?

Yes, TS in adults can sometimes be mistaken for other conditions that cause tics. Those are other movement disorders or even certain medications. It is vital to receive a proper diagnosis from a qualified healthcare professional. It will ensure appropriate treatment.

  • Can marijuana help to manage TS tics?

Some people with TS may consider using marijuana as a potential treatment for their tics. There is anecdotal evidence suggesting marijuana may help reduce tics in some individuals. But there’s limited scientific evidence to support this claim.

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been prepared.read more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well together.read more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your business.read more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any cookies.read more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going there.read more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my treatment.read more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to finish.read more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 stars.read more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his staff.read more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best treatment.read more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my doctor.read more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding solutions.read more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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