Is Tourette's Syndrome a condition with Alzheimer'

Started by

My mother has a "tick" of clearing her throat constantly. I've had her checked out for all possible conditions from sinus drainage to thyroid problems and even acid reflux and nothing seems to be showing up in her results as to why she is constantly doing this repetitive motion. She progressively gets louder and louder during the day and by the end of the day, my nerves are tied up and I have a knot the size of a softball on the back of my neck. Is there anyone else that has had this experience dealing with the progression of Alzheimer's?


Rainbow Painter, believe me, it could be much worse. Years ago, I worked in an AD care unit. One resident (a retired R.N., no less) constantly cleared her throat except when she was sleeping. Not only that, she actually spit on the floor, the bed rails and anything else in her way. We had to lay clean sheets on the floor around her bed (to keep from slipping on the floor) and over the bed rail in order to keep her clean at night. She said it always felt as though she haed phlem stuck in her throat. Dr's seem to feel it was an overactive nerve sending the wrong message to her brain.
Thank you pixie106 for responding to this topic. Yes, I know matters will most likely get worse and she keeps handkerchiefs with her at all times to spit in or wipe her tongue off. So if this is an overactive nerve, is there medication that can stimulate the nerve to reduce this action of the brain? Am I asking the wrong questions to the doctors about this condition? She also says, "I've got something in my throat" but there's nothing there when I check her. Mom does not do this in her sleep either, but the noise sure does elevate as the day goes by.
Rainbow Painter, I really feel sad for both you and your mom. I know how horribly irratating a constant repetive noise can be. As far as I know, there is nothing out there in the way of medications. I would suggest getting a referral from her Dr. and taking her to an ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist. You would think her throat would become very sore and irratated due to the clearing constant clearing. I think this would just make her feel the need to keep clearing it. It is possible that she has a problem with swallowing properly and does have fluid in the back of her throat. If that is the case, a swallowing evaluation and swallowing protocols along with Occuptional Therapy could benifit both of you.
Remember that a certian amount of coughing is a good thing and may also help to kick out anything hiding in her luns and the bback of her throat.
Be assured that this is not Tourette's Syndrome.
Thanks again for your wisdom and advice.

I will certainly address this ailment again with her doctor next month as we are in the process of placing her in permanent home for Alzheimer's patients this weekend. I understand that the disease does rob one of the process to swallow and then will need to be fed in other ways and I was concerned if this also might be the case of her condition. Her brother passed away last October of living with Alzheimer's for 11 years and in his last few months was not able to feed himself or swallow his food.

Mother can swallow, but with difficulty and I cut her soft food into small bites because I can't stand the thought of her strangling on her food. She eats such a little amount as it is these days and I monitor her taking her medications, which also concerns me if she's having difficulty swallowing, how is she going to take her meds when the swallowing stops all together?

I agree that coughing is a good thing as keeping her lungs clear and we've been blessed that she has been physically healthy during my time of being her caregiver of 20 months now.

I'm relieved to know that it is not another symptom of another type of syndrome or disease.
Thanks again and have a blessed New Year.
Rainbow Painter
You're welcome. Sometimes the very hardest decisions are also the best decisions. In an AD facility, staff is trained to deal with all the difficult aspects of the advancement of the disease. A lot of medications also come in liquid forms and can be swallowed easily. Msot pills can be crush and give in applesauce or ice cream as you probibly know. Some come in injectable form.
Just be sure that you investigate any facility you are considering. Contact that facilities Ombudsman and ask questions about staff turn-over, staffing ratio, complaints filed about the facillity and ask to see the latest State Survey results.
Visit each facility several times at different times of the day (if you can), State staffing requirements are different for each of the 3 shifts. Generally ratio for days here in Oregon are 6-1 on day shift, 10-1 on evening shift and 12/14-1 on night shift. Use your nose--if you smell urine and feces or heavy air freshener every time you visit, there may be a problem with staff keeping the residents clean.
Ask your Dr. for reccomendations to homes with excellent care. Ask how many time the staff Dr. comes in to see the residents (they often do not visit as often as required by law). Watch staff interaction with residents and remember that they almost always know when prospective clients are coming in and are on their best behavior. Make a list of questions to ask the staff (talk to the Aides themselves) aboout their care. Be critical, the prettiest places do not always provide the best care. I have worked in places that sparkled but care of the building was more important than the client care. If you find problems after your mother has entered care in a facility, do not hesatate to move her to a different one.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support