What is Transient Tic Disorder?
To understand what is a Transient Tic Disorder, it is important to first understand what is a tic. Tic is the name given to a condition in which an individual, usually a child, has involuntary, uncontrollable and abrupt movement of a part of the body or a sound which does not follow the norm.1 Repeated blinking of the eyes, clearing of the throat, repeated shrugging of the shoulders are some examples of tic. An individual or a child who has this condition which has been persistent for at least a year in duration is termed to be suffering from a Transient Tic Disorder.
This condition is normally found in children and is self limiting meaning that it normally goes away on its own, although in certain cases it requires help of physicians to get rid of Transient Tic Disorder. The most common form of Transient Tic Disorder is termed as Tourette Syndrome in which the affected child has both physical as well as vocal tics.2 By vocal tics, we mean that the child will repeatedly make a grunting sound or a moaning sound for no rhyme or reason. A child suffering from both physical as well as vocal tics occurring simultaneously is termed to be suffering from Transient Tic Disorder.
What Causes Transient Tic Disorder?
The root cause of Transient Tic Disorder is unknown by there are various factors which influence this condition. Some studies suggest that Transient Tic Disorder is an inherited condition but a genetic correlation has been very rarely found. Some studies suggest an abnormality in the brain is the cause of Transient Tic Disorder and it may also be the cause of other medical conditions like depression and ADHD. Some abnormality in the neurotransmitters have also been suggested to be a possible cause for Transient Tic Disorder but this has not been substantiated with proof yet.
What are the Symptoms of Transient Tic Disorder?
Transient Tic Disorder will have two types of symptoms motor tics and vocal tics.3 In motor tics, he affected child will have abnormal movements like shrugging the shoulders repeatedly, rapid blinking of the eyes, washing hands repeatedly while in vocal tics the child will give out sounds like repeated grunting or moaning. These symptoms may worsen when the child is under stress. Tics never happen when the child is asleep.
How is Transient Tic Disorder Diagnosed?
There is no one specific test that may definitively diagnose Transient Tic Disorder. Transient Tic Disorder is a difficult condition to diagnose since most of the times these tics occur with other conditions like allergies which may cause repeated sniffing of the nose which may be mistaken as a tic but to begin with the physician will first take a detailed history of the patient as to when the symptoms started and whether they worsen with any stress or not.
The patient may also undergo a detailed neurological evaluation to rule out any underlying medical condition causing the symptoms. Radiological studies like CT or MRI scans of the brain may be ordered to look for any abnormality in the brain that may be causing the symptoms. Once all the conditions have been ruled out, a diagnosis of Transient Tic Disorder will be made if the child fulfills the following criteria:
- The patient should have one or more motor and vocal tics
- The symptoms should be present for at least a time period of one year
- The patient should be below 18 years of age
- The symptoms should not have been caused as a result of taking any medications or any medical conditions
- The patient should not have a diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome or any other form of tic disorder.
Once these conditions are fulfilled and all potentially underlying conditions causing the symptoms have been ruled out then the child is confirmatively diagnosed with Transient Tic Disorder.
How is Transient Tic Disorder Treated?
In majority of the cases, Transient Tic Disorder in children is self limiting and goes away on its own and does not require any treatment. It is important to mention here that the parents and teachers need to play a vital role in that they should not pay attention to the tics and should not blame or scold the child for such as this may make the child more self conscious and even depressed as he or she may think that they are abnormal which may aggravate the condition.
If the Transient Tic Disorder is affecting the child to an extent that his or her performance is getting impacted then a combination of medications and therapy is quite useful. Therapy can help a child cope with stress which is a chief aggravator of Transient Tic Disorder. For this cognitive behavioral therapy is the most preferred mode of treatment. There are also some medications which can control Transient Tic Disorder.
These medications are fluphenazine, haloperidol, or pimozide. These drugs affect the production of dopamine which is a neurotransmitter in the brain which reduces Transient Tic Disorder. In some cases, antidepressants can be used for treating Transient Tic Disorder. Apart from controlling the tics, these medications also help in controlling anxiety, depression, and other compulsive behavior that the child may have along with Transient Tic Disorder.