Scottish singer Lewis Capaldi has gone public and said he has Tourette’s syndrome, sharing that the diagnosis was a relief because he worried he may have a “horrible degenerative disease.” While speaking live on his Instagram, the Glasgow-born idol shared that living with the condition sees some days “more painful than others” but in good spirit also said “it’s not a big deal".
So, what is Tourette’s Syndrome, how does it affect people, is it common, and can it be treated?
What is Tourette’s Syndrome?
Tourette’s Syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder characterised by involuntary, sudden and repetitive vocal sounds or unwanted movements called “tics” that cannot be easily controlled. TS usually starts during childhood, however after several years - with the correct support - the symptoms can improve or disappear altogether, according to the NHS website.
Capaldi shared that his Tourette’s manifests via involuntary movement, he said: “I do a shoulder twitch quite a lot.”
What are the symptoms of Tourette’s Syndrome?
Tourette’s usually begins in childhood between the ages of 2 and 14 (with 6 being the average age) and it is characterised by involuntary physical movements and vocal noises (tics) as the main symptom.
People with this disorder tend to have a combination of physical tics (e.g., eye rolling, shoulder shrugging, jerking of the limbs) and vocal tics (e.g., whistling, tongue clicking, saying random words or phrases.)
The NHS website says that symptoms can vary greatly between individuals, for example: “Swearing is rare and only affects about 1 in 10 people with Tourette’s syndrome.”
Is there a cure for Tourette’s Syndrome?
There is no known cure for Tourette’s Syndrome however there are treatment options that can help manage the symptoms and improve overall health. Treatment aims to control tics that interfere with the individual’s daily life and ability to function by using medication or therapy e.g., psychotherapy or behaviour therapy.
Medications like dopamine blockers may mitigate tics, or Botox injections to muscles can be used to relieve involuntary movements. Capaldi confirmed that he is using this as a form of treatment when he said: “I’ve got Botox on my shoulders to stop it moving.”
How many people have Tourette’s in the UK?
Tourettes-action.Org revealed that Tourette’s “affects one school child in every hundred and is more common amongst boys.
“Over 300,000 children and adults are living with TS in the UK.”