Early symptoms are almost always noticed first in childhood, with the average age of onset between 7 and 10 years. The most common symptoms are repetitive, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics.
Some of the more common tics a person with Tourette syndrome experiences include:
- Eye blinking and other vision irregularities
- Repetitive throat-clearing
- Grunting sounds
- Facial grimacing
- Shoulder shrugging
- Head or shoulder jerking.
Other symptoms may include behavioral problems, such as:
- Hyperactivity and impulsivity (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder -- ADHD)
- Problems with reading, writing, and arithmetic
- Anxiety disorder
- Panic attacks
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder.
(Click Tourette Syndrome Symptoms for more information.)
A diagnosis is made after verifying that the patient has had both motor and vocal tics for at least one year. The existence of other neurological or psychiatric conditions can also help doctors arrive at a diagnosis.
It is not uncommon, however, for patients to obtain a formal diagnosis only after symptoms have been present for some time. There are many reasons for this (see Tourette Syndrome Diagnosis).