Huntington’s Disease

What is Huntington's disease?

Huntington’s disease is a disorder that is inherited and results in the wasting away or degeneration of nerve cells in certain parts of the brain. It is typically inherited from a person’s parents. A general lack of coordination becomes part of your everyday behaviour. As the disease begins to escalate, uncoordinated, jerky body movements become more apparent. Physical symptoms of this disease can begin at any age, starting from infancy to old age. A parent with a defective Huntingtin gene could pass along the defective copy of the gene or the healthy copy. Therefore, each child in the family has a 50 per cent chance of inheriting the gene that causes this disorder.

The defect causes a part of DNA to occur many more times than it is supposed to. Normally, the section of DNA is repeated 10 to 28 times. But in people with Huntington disease, it is repeated 36 to 120 times. The larger the number of times repeated, the higher a person’s chance is, of developing symptoms at an early stage.


The symptoms of this disease usually develop when people are between 30-50 years old, although they can start much earlier or later. The symptoms can differ from person to person in the same family. The symptoms include:

  • Behavioral changes
  • Slight, uncontrollable muscular movements
  • Stumbling and clumsiness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Change of mood including aggression or antisocial behaviour


The most probable causes of this disease could include:

  • Psychiatric problems
  • Depression and short term memory lapses
  • Movement problems
  • Communication problems


The prime risk factors include:

  • Infections like pneumonia
  • Fall related injuries
  • Inability to swallow


To prevent the occurrence of this disease, there are certain things one should definitely take care of:

  • Avoiding unhealthy food
  • Meeting a genetic counsellor
  • Pre-natal testing

How is it diagnosed?

It is important to note that the diagnosis is based on the doctor recognising a number of factors ranging from neurological examination, to family history, psychiatric evaluation and genetic testin...

How is it treated?

Medication can lessen the symptoms of this disorder to a great extent, if not completely curb it. It may be difficult to tell whether they are symptoms of the condition or result of the medication


When do I contact the doctor?

Whenever you begin to experience symptoms such as extreme clumsiness, uncontrollable muscular movements, abnormal lack of concentration, you should immediately see a doctor because they are going to treat you for this disease just right and restore you to health. 

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