Coughing, grunting and/or throat clearing are some tics experienced by those with Tourette and tic disorders. With tics, it is often less about needing to clear the throat, and more to fulfil a sensory urge.
Since the recent pandemic, coughing has been something most people want to do less in public… very difficult with a tic disorder, even if the cough is not a symptom of illness.
Is coughing motor or vocal?
It is apparent that vocal tics are tics associated with sounds. However a coughing tic may come with an urge to feel tension in the abdominal muscles, or a vibration in the throat.
As some individuals carry out this tic to feel a bodily movement or sensation, this tic is harder to place in one category.
Is coughing a simple tic?
These would be classed as simple tics if done in short bursts.
It would become a complex tic if it was longer in duration coinciding with other tics and muscle groups.
Main article: The difference between simple and complex tics
What to look out for
Repeated coughing and grunting can be very painful.
Vocal tics can result in a dry throat, and also muscle pain particularly in the throat/neck and abdominal muscles.
Regular head movements can also lead to headaches.
It would be wise to ensure that coughing isn’t a sign of another condition. Tics may appear to be the cause in someone diagnosed with a tic disorder, so it wouldn’t hurt to ensure any coughing, grunting or throat clearing is in fact a tic and not something else.
Due to the recent pandemic, coughing has been something many of us have refrained from doing in public. This may make those with a coughing tic particularly vulnerable to unwanted attention on public transport for example.
Support is important for those with these tics. Seeking professional advice from a specialist could help reduce the risk of injury and help to manage stress.