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Huntington's Disease - Understanding the Stages of Symptoms!

Ms. Sadhana Ghaisas 91% (10 ratings)
PHD - Science
Geneticist, mumbai  •  29 years experience
Huntington's Disease - Understanding the Stages of Symptoms!

Do you know that Huntington’s disease is an inherited disease? This condition leads to the progressive degeneration of the nerve cells present in your brain. Huntington's disease has severe impact on several functional abilities of an affected person and results in psychiatric, thinking and movement disorders.

Causes
Huntington’s disease occurs from an inherited defect present in a single gene. It is a form of autosomal dominant disorder, which indicates that a person requires just one copy of the defective gene for developing the disorder. Except the genes on the chromosomes, two copies of every gene are inherited by a person. The affected parent may pass along the defective gene copy or the healthy copy.

Symptoms
Commonly, the symptoms of Huntington’s disease start appearing during midlife. It may also affect a person during childhood. The symptoms of this disease vary from person to person. Abnormal movement and weight loss are common symptoms, which occur in all stages.

Early stage

The usual early stage symptoms include the following:

  1. Slight coordination changes, which affect balance and make you clumsy

  2. Uncontrollable fidgety movement

  3. Stiffness and slowing

  4. Irritability and depression

  5. Problems with thinking in difficult situations

Middle stage

With passing time, the symptoms start interfering more with the patient’s daily life and activities. You may start dropping things, face trouble with swallowing, and talking. Staying organized may get tough. Certain emotional changes are indicated.

Later stage
In the later stage of Huntington’s disease, a patient becomes dependent on others for taking care of them. A patient cannot walk or speak, and fidgety movements are likely to become more severe or may subside.

Treatment
Huntington’s disease has no fixed cure. Several measures are followed for managing the symptoms. They are as follows:

  1. Medications are used to manage fidgety movements. Other medicines are also used for controlling any other side effect experienced.

  2. Speech or language therapy may be beneficial in case of speech and swallowing problems.

  3. Physical therapy may help you in improving your control movements. Assistive devices like handrails can be used for managing your changing physical abilities.

  4. Nutritional support is used in which special utensils are used to focus on a nutrient-rich diet.

  5. Exercise is also important for patients with Huntington’s disease as it enables them to stay active and fit.

In case you experience any symptom of Huntington’s disease, it is important for you to consult a doctor immediately. This is a severe disease and early diagnosis and treatment will prevent the condition from worsening.

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