Constantly having to blink, make strange faces or shake your head. Repeatedly making a certain sound, like coughing or sniffing, or saying complete words over and over. Everyone has something that they do frequently from time to time. But if it happens several times a day, you may suffer from tics.

What are tics?

You are said to have a tic when you make a sudden, rapid, repeated, non-rhythmic and recurring movement or vocalisation. You may feel like wanting to constantly blink or shake your head, for example. This is referred to as a tic disorder. A distinction is made between whether one constantly makes a movement or a sound. It also may be that you have both of these problems. If you make both a movement and a sound several times a day and these problems are present for more than a year, you are said to have Tourette syndrome.

Tics can be very frustrating when it comes to doing normal, everyday things, like going to school or meeting friends. It is also a pain to constantly have to explain why you do what you do. 

Examples of tics

  • Movements: eye blinking, sniffling, shaking your head or body, touching things or making gestures.
  • Vocalisations: coughing, sniffing, grunting or repeatedly saying words or phrases. It may also be that you repeatedly say a curse word. 

What causes tics?

One is often born with tics, but they're not yet visible. A certain region of your brain causes the tics. And often there are things that everyone gets in the habit of doing a lot for a while, perhaps during a busy or exciting time.

How common are tics?

Tics are common in children, but usually only become noticeable around the age of four. It may be that you will be less bothered by the tics as you grow older and they may even go away entirely. However, it is also possible that you will always suffer from them.

About two out of every 100 children suffer from tics.

Would you like to know more about the treatment of tics?

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