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What causes Tourette's Syndrome and can the condition be treated?

Tourette's syndrome is a disorder characterized by abnormal twitching (known as tics) and the tendency to shout out inappropriate words (usually of the four letter variety).

The condition is believed to be heredity although there have been many cases where there was no family history of the disorder.

As yet we don't know the exact causes of Tourette's although it is thought to be in some way related to the chemical in the brain called dopamine, the same substance believed to be behind Parkinson's disease. We also know that the tics and shouting are often aggravated with stress.

Unfortunately, there is no simple cure for Tourette's but to some degree many people will grow out of it. However, for others the syndrome is with them for life.

Medication can be taken to help control the tics but this is usually only used for severe cases due to the to side effects, which include fatigue, weight gain, memory problems and personality changes.

Tourette's sufferers can also be taught coping techniques to effectively reduce the severity of their tics.

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