Heat has been reported to exert variable effects on people with Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (TS). At age 24 years, a 32-year-old right-handed man with TS experienced a marked reduction in tics for two years after undergoing dehydration by entering a hot tub at 103°F (39.4°C) to 104°F (40.0°C) for 3 to 4 hours. On the Yale Global Tic Severity Scale (YGTSS) he scored 55 seven months before dehydration and 13 one month after dehydration. An intense heat exposure and dehydration led to an apparent remission in tics. The remission continued without the use of prescribed or nonprescribed medications or substances for two years until tics returned in the worst ever exacerbation after a tetanus immunization. The heat exposure may have altered at least temporarily his thermostat for normal heat-loss mechanisms through dopaminergic pathways from the anterior hypothalamus to the basal ganglia and the substantia nigra. Whether or not that mechanism or some other mechanism relevant to the heat exposure and/or dehydration is at play, the sudden and marked improvement in his tics needs further attention. Prospective testing of the heat and dehydration effect on tics should be pursued.
Int J Phys Med Rehabil
Basal ganglia, Dopamine, Hypothalamus, Substantia nigra, Thermoregulation, Thermostat, Tics