The connection between strep throat and Tourette Syndrome

I was very sick last week, as was my daughter the week before. For us, it was all about being knocked on our butt for a few days, sniffling like crazy, dealing with a few nights of sore throat because of postnasal drip and feeling exhausted.

Stink had a sore throat on Saturday. Unlike the procedure for Pip and me which involves sleep and hot cocoa, I took Stink a day later to Urgent Care. Stink? He gets strep. Happens every time.

When I arrived, I was lucky enough to have the same (may I say very handsome) doctor on call. He immediately sat down on this rolling chair, flipped open Stink’s chart and began the following conversation:

Doctor Dreamy: So, Stink has a sore throat again?

Me: Yup.

Doctor Dreamy: No fever?

Me: Nope.

Doctor: No spots?

Me: Nope.

Doctor: But you still want us to do a rapid strep test?

Me: Yup.

Doctor: Works for me.

Five minutes later …

Doctor: He has it.

Me: (grunt grunt grunt) But you can’t explain why?

Doctor: No. It’s very very odd.

Me: Do you think this is why, possibly, he tics? That his basal ganglia has been ravaged so many times that it simply doesn’t have a fighting chance in hell to normalize?

Doctor: Honestly, it very well could be. I wish we had answers. But I can tell you this: You’re on it.

Me: I try.

Stink is now on penicillin, a change from his normal amoxicillin thanks to Doctor Dreamy who thought maybe, just maybe, a change would do him good. Now back in school, Stink is his old crafty self. No complaints, no exhaustion, and still no major tics! What do you all think about the correlation between strep and tics?

My takeaway on strep and tics: Kids who have TS have more sensitive immune systems. The better the diet (though not a cure all) and the more tailored the supplements to each child (get a good homeopathic doc) and the more sleep (8 hours at least) the less likely their immune system is to take a hit. And when the immune system does crash, be kind to yourself. (Moms and dads, you didn’t give your kids TS. You are good!)


  1. We experienced TS after several rounds of strep with some thinking PANDAS. Turns out we did not have the blood levels for PANDAS for that diagnosis but there IS a strange correlation between TS and strep. Our school had a 24 hour on antibiotics strep rule, parents did not listen. It would spread around the school like crazy. Now there is a 36 hours rule hoping to get at least the 24 needed and it seems to slowed down. Eat right, rest, hope to stay clear of strep in elementary school. We also thought carrier at one point but we did test negative at some visits when the kids were healthy. We bought a strep kit online to test ourselves to keep out of Dr. offices unless we had to go. A few years have gone by and the strep has not hit us in a while. Some say their immune system improves with age.

  2. Top o’ the mornin’ to ya from Down Under! My son also had strep, and ironically (or not!) it came shortly before the TS and OCD symptoms set in bad enough for us to seek a diagnosis. Is this normal? Does this happen a lot? I hope people are researching that!

  3. I don’t usually speculate, but anecdotally, for what that’s worth, of my 3 kids and spouse with TS, the 2 that had multiple strep infections have significantly more severe TS+ symptoms.

  4. My son would get strep quite often. We ALWAYS had docs run a strep test at the slightest sore throat, because the strep did aggravate the tics and we wanted to make sure we treated if it was strep. For awhile, he was considered a “carrier”, because he would get strep, take antibiotics, the symptoms would go away, but on re-test, he would still show positive for strep with no symptoms.

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