Huntington’s disease or also known as Huntington’s chorea is a neurodegenerative disease that causes degeneration of nerve cells in the brain. The disease is genetic in nature as it is caused by inheriting a faulty gene. Because of the death of nerve cells, a patient with Huntington’s disease may experience involuntary movements called chorea, cognitive deterioration, and emotional disturbances.
Usually, symptoms of Huntington’s disease develop in the mid 30s and 40s. Because Huntington’s disease is genetic, if one of your parents has Huntington’s you have a 50% chance of inheriting the faulty genes of Huntington’s disease and you can even pass it on to your children.
In Huntington’s disease, according to Helpguide.org, a patient will experience problems in three different areas. These areas include body movement control, mental functioning, and psychological functioning. Symptoms of Huntington’s disease include:
Body movement control – Patients with Huntington’s disease would experience chorea which is described as quick, dance-like movements of the limbs that are uncontrollable. Aside from that, movements of the torso and the face are also very apparent. Over time, these involuntary movements will progress and become more severe. The gait will become unsteady and difficulty of swallowing can happen in the later stages.
Mental functioning – Because Huntington’s disease is mainly caused by death of nerve cells in the brain, it greatly affects mental functioning. A person with Huntington’s disease experiences slow processing of information as well as mental organization. Patients with Huntington’s disease find it hard to perform daily tasks such as organizing household issues and multi-tasking. Aside from that, patients may also have problems with remembering words and it’ll be hard for them to even create a simple sentence. The cognitive functioning of these patients declines as the disease progresses; but unlike other degenerative diseases, patients with Huntington’s disease can recognize what is happening in their environment as well as their caregivers.
Psychological functioning – Patients with Huntington’s disease experience problems such as controlling their impulses and emotions. It is very common to see a patient with Huntington’s disease that yells and outbursts or become very aggressive. Some patients can also exhibit symptoms like schizophrenia with hallucinations, anxiety, psychosis, and mania.
As of the moment, no treatments are available to slow the progression of Huntington’s disease. The treatment for this condition is only symptomatic. There are some medications which can reduce the occurrence of involuntary movements as well as emotional disorders. As for psychotic symptoms, antidepressants and antipsychotics are prescribed.
– Huntington’s Disease: Symptoms,Treatment, and Hope – Helpguide.org
Author’s: Amara Rose and Doug Russell