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Transient tic disorder

Definition

Transient tic disorder is a temporary condition in which a person makes one or many brief, repeated, difficult to control movements or noises (tics).

Alternative Names

Tic - transient tic disorder

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Transient tic disorder is common in children.

The cause of transient tic disorder can be physical or mental (psychological). It may be a mild form of Tourette syndrome.

Symptoms

The child may have facial tics or tics involving movement of the arms, legs, or other areas.

Tics may involve:

  • Movements that occur again and again and don't have a rhythm
  • An overwhelming urge to make the movement
  • Brief and jerky movements that include the following:
    • Blinking
    • Clenching the fists
    • Curling the toes
    • Flaring the nostrils
    • Grimacing
    • Jerking the arms
    • Kicking
    • Opening the mouth
    • Raising the eyebrows
    • Shrugging the shoulders
    • Sticking out the tongue

The tics often look like nervous behavior. Tics appear to get worse with stress and do not occur during sleep.

Sounds may also occur, such as:

  • Clicking
  • Grunting
  • Hissing
  • Moaning
  • Sniffing
  • Snorting
  • Squealing
  • Throat clearing

Signs and tests

The health care provider should consider physical causes of transient tic disorder before making a diagnosis.

In order to be diagnosed with transient tic disorder, the child must have had tics almost every day for at least 4 weeks, but less than a year.

Other disorders such as anxiety, attention deficit disorder, myoclonus, obsessive-compulsive disorder, epilepsy, and focal dystonia, may need to be ruled out.

Treatment

Health care providers recommend that family members do NOT call attention to the tics at first, because unwanted attention may make the tics worse. If tics are severe enough to cause problems in school or work, behavioral techniques and medications may help.

Expectations (prognosis)

Simple childhood tics usually disappear over a period of months.

Complications

There are usually no complications. A chronic motor or vocal tic disorder can develop.

Calling your health care provider

Talk to your health care provider if you are concerned about a transient tic disorder, especially if it continues or disrupts your child's life. If you are not sure whether the movements are a tic or a seizure, call your health care provider right away.

References

Gleason MM, Boris NW, Dalton R. Habit and tic disorders. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 23.


Review Date: 2/16/2012
Reviewed By: Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, and Department of Anatomy at UCSF, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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