Tourette syndrome (TS), named after the French neurologist who first described it, is a neurological disorder characterized by motor tics (brief, non-rhythmic, stereotyped movements) and vocal tics.
TS is usually first noticed in childhood between 2 and 15 years of age, although there have been cases of delayed onset (starting around 21 years of age). Depending on how strictly it's defined, experts estimate that TS affects 1 in 100 people. Boys are 4 times more likely to be diagnosed with this condition than girls.
Although there is no cure for TS, most people do not need medical treatment if symptoms aren't bothersome. Severe cases of TS can cause behaviour that many people find bizarre, rude, or alarming. Many people who have heard of this condition associate it with loud and uncontrollable swearing. This is one possible symptom of TS, but it's a fairly rare one. Most people with TS have much less severe tics.
People with TS may also have other associated behaviours or symptoms, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). About half of the people who have TS also have OCD or ADHD. Women are more likely to have OCD together with TS, and men are more likely to have ADHD together with TS. ADHD tends to appear 2 to 3 years before TS, but OCD tends to appear 5 to 6 years after a diagnosis of TS. Not everyone with TS has these conditions and the link between TS and these conditions is unclear.
The severity of tics often diminishes with age and resolves by age 18 for about half of the people with this condition. Though symptoms of TS usually improve during late teenage years, other medical conditions associated with TS, such as depression and anxiety, may continue into adulthood. People with TS have a normal life expectancy and intelligence.