Lewis Capaldi Takes ‘Break From Touring’ Due To Tourette Syndrome: Know The Disease’s Symptoms


Scottish singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi has announced on Twitter that he is taking a break from touring “for the foreseeable future” because he is still learning to “adjust to the impact” of living with Tourette syndrome. Capaldi, 26, was performing on the Pyramid stage at the Glastonbury Music Festival last week, when he lost his voice and had to depend on the audience to help him sing his biggest hits, The Guardian reported. In early June, he had announced that he was cancelling all dates before the festival to take care of his mental health, but during the show, he told the audience that he was going to take another break.

Capaldi wrote on Twitter that after the incident on Saturday, it became obvious that he needs to spend much more time getting his “mental and physical health in order”, so that he can keep doing everything he loves for a long time to come. He wrote that he will be back as soon as he possibly can. 

Rani Mukherjee’s character Naina Mathur in the 2018 film Hitchki also suffered from Tourette syndrome. The movie is based on ‘Front of the Class’, the autobiography of American motivational speaker Brad Cohen.

Here’s everything you need to know about Tourette syndrome.

What is Tourette syndrome? How does the disease manifest itself?

Tourette syndrome is a complex neurological disorder characterised by sudden, unwanted, uncontrolled, involuntary, rapid and repeated movements or noises called tics. Tics can be motor or vocal, also called phonic tics. Motor tics refer to uncontrolled body movements, and phonic tics refer to outbursts of sound. Motor tics can be simple or complex. Rapid eye blinking, shoulder shrugging, head jerking and nose twitching are some examples of simple motor tics, and are often the first signs of Tourette syndrome. 

While simple motor tics involve only one muscle group, complex motor tics involve multiple muscle groups, and can be manifested in the form of kicking, hopping, jumping and spinning. 

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Vocal tics can also be simple or complex. Grunting, sniffing, barking and throat-clearing are some examples of simple vocal tics, and repetition of the words of others, called echolalia, and repetition of one’s own words, called palilalia, are examples of complex vocal tics. Involuntary use of obscene words, a condition called coprolalia, is also a type of complex tic.

Most children with Tourette syndrome start showing the first symptoms between the ages of five and 10 years, in the head and neck area. Eventually, the symptoms may start appearing in the muscles of the torso, arms and legs. 

Sometimes, a person with Tourette syndrome might feel the urge to repeat a tic a certain number of times in order to get rid of the sensation that compelled them to voluntarily perform the tic. 

Most of the time, motor tics appear before vocal tics. Also, Tourette syndrome is more common in boys than in girls. 

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The worst tic symptoms are experienced in the early years of adolescence, but may lessen by the late teens to early 20s. Sometimes, the symptoms of Tourette syndrome can last into adulthood, making it a chronic condition. 

However, Tourette syndrome is not a degenerative condition, which means it does not continue to get worse with time, according to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

People suffering from Tourette syndrome not only have tics, but are also at risk for diseases such as obsessive compulsive disorder, sleep problems, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and anxiety and depression.

Therefore, even if a person with Tourette syndrome functions normally, the associated diseases can hamper their learning abilities and social skills. 

Tourette syndrome is estimated to affect one in 10 children worldwide.

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What are the causes of Tourette syndrome? How is it treated?

A person can suffer from Tourette syndrome due to genetic factors, or environmental factors of both. Changes in neurotransmitters responsible for producing and controlling voluntary movements may result in tics. 

Mutations in genes such as the SLITRK1 gene, which affects how neurons grow and connect with one another, and abnormalities in the NRXN1 and CNTN6 genes, which regulate the normal formation of nerve connections, may play a role in the development of Tourette syndrome.

The reason the SLITRK1 gene may play a role in the development of Tourette syndrome is that it provides instructions for making a protein called SLITRK1, which is active in the brain, and plays a role in the development of nerve cells. 

However, most people with Tourette syndrome do not have a variant of the SLITRK1 gene, which indicates that the presence of the gene does not necessarily mean that a person will suffer from the disease. 

There could also be a genetic association between Tourette syndrome and other neurological problems such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and obsessive compulsive disorders.

Tourette syndrome cannot be cured, but the condition can be treated through behavioural therapy and medications such as dopamine-blocking drugs, stimulant drugs to lessen symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and antidepressants.

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