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A to Z: Tic Disorder

Tic disorders are conditions that cause people to make sudden, repetitive movements or sounds (tics), seemingly without being aware of it.

More to Know

Tics are repetitive movements (motor tics) or sounds (vocal tics) that people can't stop themselves from doing. Most tics are brief and go away on their own. Someone who has a tic or tics that go on for at least 4 weeks is said to have a tic disorder.

There are several types of tic disorders:

  • Transient tic disorders involve motor or vocal tics that last for more than 4 weeks but less than a year.
  • Chronic tic disorders involve either motor tics or vocal tics (but not both) that last for more than a year.
  • Tourette syndrome, the most severe kind of tic disorder, involves both motor and vocal tics that go on for at least a year.

Tic disorders usually first appear during childhood, and they can be associated with other conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Tics can become more severe when someone is under stress or fatigued, but they tend to get milder or go away entirely as kids get older.

Tic disorders generally don't require any treatment, but doctors may recommend medications to control symptoms if the disorder starts to interfere with someone's schoolwork or daily life.

Keep in Mind

Tic disorders are usually harmless and don't cause any complications beyond the tics themselves. They also typically start to improve after about age 11. Some studies indicate that most people with tic disorders are free of tics or considerably improved by the time they reach adulthood.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

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