Huntington’s Disease: An Overview of This Brain Disorder

Tanuja Bisht

, Health A2Z

Huntington’s disease, usually known as HD, is a continuous brain disorder that creates uncontrolled movements, loss of thinking ability (cognition), and emotional problems. Other common names of this disease are Huntington chorea, Huntington’s chorea, Huntington chronic progressive hereditary chorea, and Huntington’s disease.


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What is Huntington’s Disease?


Huntington’s disease is an acquired disease that causes the progressive breakdown of the brain’s nerve cells. The disease has a broad impact on the patient’s functional abilities such as movement, psychiatric disorders, and thinking (cognitive).


Most people with this disease develop its symptoms in their 30s or 40s. But the disease may appear or begin earlier or later in life.


Several medications are also available to help in managing the symptoms of the disease, but treatments can’t prevent the mental, physical, and behavioral decline associated with the condition.




What are the Symptoms of Huntington’s Disease?



There are several symptoms of Huntington’s Disease including;


  • Stumbling


  • Slight signs of emotional and mood change


  • Lack of focus and difficulty in functioning


  • Lapses in short-term memory



  • Irritability


  • Difficulty in speaking



  • Difficulty in eating and swallowing


  • Risk of choking


  • Uncontrollable movements


  • Flicking movements of the body part


  • Lurching


  • Aggression


  • Anger


  • Apathy


  • Excitement


  • Frustration


  • Moodiness


  • Antisocial behavior


  • Stubbornness


  • Cognitive changes


  • Loss of initiative


  • Disorientation


  • Difficulty focusing


  • Loss of organizational skills


  • Problems with multitasking


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What are the Causes of Huntington’s Disease?


The main cause of this disease is the mutation in the faulty gene.


In this, the normal copy of the gene produces the huntingtin protein. The faulty gene is larger than its normal size. This leads to excessive production of adenine, cytosine, and guanine, collectively known as the building blocks of the DNA.


This change leads to the form of huntingtin, which is toxic, and, as it accumulates in the brain, it leads to damage to the brain cells.


Some brain cells are sensitive to huntingtin, especially those which are related to movement, memory, and thinking. It undermines their function and ultimately destroys them.




What is the Diagnosing Process of Huntington’s Disease?


A diagnostic genetic test is now available for diagnosing Huntington’s disease. With the help of this test, a doctor can confirm that the defective gene for huntingtin protein is the main cause of symptoms in people with Huntington’s disease and can detect the defective gene in people those who are don’t yet have symptoms but are at high risk because his parents have the disease.




What are the Treatments for Huntington’s Disease?


At present time, the disease is incurable. There is no treatment available that can reverse its progression or slow it down.



However, some symptoms can be managed through medication and therapies.


For example, Tetrabenazine (Xenazine) is a medicine that helps in the treatment of the disease and is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat other diseases such as jerky, chorea, and involuntary movements.


Its side effects may include depression and suicidal thoughts or actions. Anyone who is facing or diagnosed with depression, especially with suicidal thoughts, should avoid the use of tetrabenazine.



Speech Therapy:

Speech therapy is helpful for patients in finding ways to express words and phrases while communicating in a more effective way.



Physical and occupational therapy:


A physical therapist helps in improving muscle flexibility and strength, leading to better balance and reduce the risk of falling.


An occupational therapist can also be helpful for the patient living with this disease to develop strategies in coping with memory problems and concentration, as well as making the home safer.






Since, Huntington’s disease is linked with a brain disorder leading to uncontrolled movements, loss of thinking ability, and emotional problems. Then it is necessary that you should treat the person with more love and care.


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