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Feature Article

Tics and Tourette syndrome: a guide to management in childhood

Padraic J Grattan-Smith

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Abstract

Most children with tics or Tourette syndrome need no treatment and their symptoms subside by late adolescence. Medical therapy should only be used if absolutely necessary or if there is complicated Tourette syndrome.

Key Points

  • Tics are common in children and particularly involve facial muscles.
  • Tics are temporarily suppressible but this produces a build up of tension and an increasing urge to perform the tic.
  • Tourette syndrome is defined by the presence of multiple motor and one or more vocal tics, which typically wax and wane in severity.
  • The diagnosis of Tourette syndrome can usually be made on the clinical features alone and there is no need for investigation.
  • Most children with tics or Tourette syndrome need no treatment, and in most the symptoms subside by late adolescence.
  • There is a subgroup of children with Tourette syndrome who have associated disorders and who require psychiatric management.

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