Signs and symptoms of Tourette’s syndrome as Melanie Sykes reveals she may have condition

Melanie Sykes, who believes she may be living with Tourette's syndrome. (Getty Images)
Melanie Sykes has revealed she believes she may be living with Tourette's syndrome. (Getty Images)

Melanie Sykes has said she believes she has Tourette’s syndrome after researching the condition following her autism diagnosis.

The TV presenter, 52, shared in 2021 that she had been diagnosed as autistic at the age of 51, describing the revelation as “life-affirming”.

Appearing on an episode of Alan Carr’s Life’s A Beach podcast, Sykes asked if she was able to swear to which Carr confirmed she could.

“Oh good, but I’ll try not to, because I’ve just discovered I have Tourette’s,” she responded, before adding: “I am wired a completely different way and I’m only just understanding it.

“Where I used to think ‘what’s wrong with me?’ now I know it’s everything that’s right with me because that’s what makes me me.”

Read more: Melanie Sykes 'self-identifies' as having Tourette's two years after finding out she is autistic, Sky News, 2-min read

Following the release of the podcast, Sykes clarified in a tweet: “Hello there. For the record I have NOT been ‘diagnosed’ with Tourettes.

“I self identify because of my studies and understanding of the pre existing ‘conditions’ that are hand in hand in some autistic people.”

Lewis Capaldi. (Getty Images)
Lewis Capaldi has previously opened up about his Tourette's to his fans. (Getty Images)

Sykes isn't the only celebrity to discuss their experiences with the condition, stars including Lewis Capaldi and Billie Eilish have also opened up about living with Tourette's.

Capaldi first spoke about his condition last year, saying "it's not a big a deal" but that some days are "more painful than others".

After losing his voice on stage at Glastonbury - and having the crowd back him up by singing - he announced a break from touring.

Read more: Scarlett Moffatt opens up about developing sudden onset tics in Tourette's documentary, Yahoo Life UK, 5-min read

Billie Eilish has also previously opened up about being diagnosed with Tourette's syndrome from a young age.

The Grammy Award-winning singer, 21, was prompted to discuss her condition when she experienced a tic on camera, brought on by the lights, during an interview on My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman for Netflix.

Watch: 'I'm good, baby': Singer Lewis Capaldi Talks about Tourette's diagnosis

"If you film me for long enough, you're going to see lots of tics," she said. "I don't care. It's really weird, I haven't talked about it all.

"The most common way people react is they laugh, [think] that I'm trying to be funny...and I'm always left incredibly offended by that."

Read more: 'My son has Tourette’s syndrome': Heartache caused by a missed diagnosis, Yahoo Life UK, 5-min read

Eilish was diagnosed with Tourette's at 11, having experienced "small" tics when she was a child.

The types of tics she described experiencing include ear wiggling, raising her eyebrow, clicking her jaw and flexing her arm.

"These are things you would never notice if you're just having a conversation with me, but for me, they're very exhausting," she explained.

"It's not like I like it, but I feel it's part of me. I have made friends with it. And so now, I'm pretty confident in it."

Billie Eilish arrives at the In America: An Anthology of Fashion themed Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, New York, U.S., May 2, 2022. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly - HP1EI53020689
Billie Eilish has lived with Tourette's syndrome since she was 11. (REUTERS)

However, when asked whether it happens when she performs, she replied, "No. When I'm moving around, I'm not ticcing at all.

"When I'm riding my horse I'm not ticcing, when I'm moving, when I'm thinking and focusing, when I'm singing."

So what exactly is the condition Capaldi and Eilish live with, and what are the signs and symptoms?

What is Tourette's syndrome?

Tourette's syndrome is a condition that causes a person to make involuntary sounds and movements called tics, according to the NHS.

While it usually starts during childhood, tics and other symptoms usually improve over the years, sometimes going away entirely. There is no cure for the condition, but treatment – which can include behavioural therapy and medicine – can help manage symptoms.

Signs and symptoms of Tourette's syndrome

Symptoms can be both physical and vocal, and can be worse on some days than others, particularly during periods of stress, anxiety or tiredness.

Example of physical tics, as listed by the NHS, include:

  • blinking

  • eye rolling

  • grimacing

  • shoulder shrugging

  • jerking of the head or limbs

  • jumping

  • twirling

  • touching objects and other people

Examples of vocal tics include:

  • grunting

  • throat clearing

  • whistling

  • coughing

  • tongue clicking

  • animal sounds

  • saying random words and phrases

  • repeating a sound, word or phrase

  • swearing (this is rare and only affects about 1 in 10)

Tics are not usually harmful to overall health, but can be painful, or tiring.

Watch: Billie Eilish has said that living with Tourette's syndrome is 'very exhausting'

When to seek medical advice

The NHS advises that you should contact your GP if you or your child starts having tics. As many children have tics for several months before growing out of them, it's important to remember their symptoms may not necessarily mean they have Tourette's syndrome.

While there's no single test for the condition, tests and scans can rule out other health problems. A diagnosis can be given to those who have had several tics for at least a year, which can help individuals be better understand, and ensure they get access to the right kind of treatment and support.

You can also find support from charity Tourette's action.

Additional reporting PA.