Huntington's Disease

Also called: HD, Huntington's chorea

Huntington's disease (HD) is an inherited disease that causes certain nerve cells in the brain to waste away. People are born with the defective gene, but symptoms usually don't appear until middle age. Early symptoms of HD may include uncontrolled movements, clumsiness, and balance problems. Later, HD can take away the ability to walk, talk, and swallow. Some people stop recognizing family members. Others are aware of their environment and are able to express emotions.

If one of your parents has Huntington's disease, you have a 50 percent chance of getting it. A blood test can tell you if have the HD gene and will develop the disease. Genetic counseling can help you weigh the risks and benefits of taking the test.

There is no cure. Medicines can help manage some of the symptoms, but cannot slow down or stop the disease.

NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Symptoms of Huntington's Disease

The following features are indicative of Huntington's Disease:
  • movement disorders
  • cognitive impairments
  • psychiatric disorders
  • behavioral changes
  • physical changes

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Common Causes of Huntington's Disease

The following are the most common causes of Huntington's Disease:
  • mutations in the HTT gene

Risk Factors for Huntington's Disease

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Huntington's Disease:
  • environmental factors
  • genetic factors
  • CAG repeat length in the huntingtin gene

Prevention of Huntington's Disease

No, it is not possible to prevent Huntington's Disease.
  • genetic mutations in HTT gene

Occurrence of Huntington's Disease

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Huntington's Disease cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Widely occurring between 500K - 1 Million cases

Common Age Group

Huntington's Disease can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Huntington's Disease can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Huntington's Disease

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Huntington's Disease:
  • Neuropsychological testing: To evaluate the memory, mental agility, and language function
  • Brain-imaging tests: To determine the function of the brain
  • Genetic counseling and testing: To assess the defective gene and confirm the diagnosis
  • Psychiatric evaluation: To diagnose the emotional state, quality of judgment and signs of disordered thinking

Doctor for Diagnosis of Huntington's Disease

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Huntington's Disease:
  • Neurologist
  • Psychiatrist

Complications of Huntington's Disease if untreated

Yes, Huntington's Disease causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Huntington's Disease is left untreated:
  • pneumonia
  • heart disease
  • suicide risk
  • inability to swallow

Procedures for Treatment of Huntington's Disease

The following procedures are used to treat Huntington's Disease:
  • Psychotherapy: Improves the effective communication among family members

Self-care for Huntington's Disease

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Huntington's Disease:
  • Maintain healthy body weight: Adequate nutrition or the use of dietary supplements helps in coping up with the disease
  • Remove distractions during a meal: Use of utensils designed for people with limited fine motor skills and covered cups with straws or drinking spouts

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Huntington's Disease

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Huntington's Disease:
  • Speech therapy: Promotes the ability to speak clearly or teach you to use communication devices
  • Physical therapy: Increases the strength, flexibility, balance and coordination
  • Occupational therapy: Improves the functional abilities

Patient Support for Treatment of Huntington's Disease

The following actions may help Huntington's Disease patients:
  • Join support services: By providing caregiver education about the disease
  • Planning for residential and end-of-life care: By discussing about the end-of-life care and communicating with the family members

Time for Treatment of Huntington's Disease

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Huntington's Disease to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • Disease cannot be treated but only maintained or effects reduced

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Huntington's Disease.
Degenerative Nerve Diseases
Movement Disorders

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