3 types of common signs of Huntington’s disease

3 types of common signs of Huntington’s disease

Huntington’s disease or Huntington disease results in a progressive breakdown or a degeneration of nerve cells in the brain. This is a rare disease, typically passed down through generations, which means it is inherited. It impacts the functional abilities of a person, leading to cognitive, movement, and psychiatric disorders. There is no treatment to cure the disease completely; however, there are options to help manage the symptoms. Here are common signs of the disease.

Signs and symptoms of Huntington’s disease
The symptoms vary from person to person, as there is a wide spectrum of signs to look out for. Here are some symptoms that can be observed in patients:

Movement disorders
This kind of disorder involves not just involuntary movement disorders but also impaired movement disorders. Examples include writhing movements called chorea or involuntary jerking. Chorea is a movement disorder that occurs due to an overactivity of dopamine in brain areas that control movement. This overactivity leads to sudden, involuntary, irregular, and uncontrollable jerky movements, which can occur in the arms, legs, and facial muscles. Muscle issues like rigidity or muscle contracture (also called dystonia), slow or unusual eye movements, difficulty with speech or swallowing, and impaired gait, posture, and balance are noted. These disorders may impact an individual’s day-to-day activities. As Huntington’s can affect one’s nerves and muscles, it may also adversely impact one’s digestive system and bowel movements, leading to constipation, incontinence, and diarrhea.

Cognitive disorders
The impairments associated with Huntington’s disease include difficulty in organizing, prioritizing, and focusing on tasks. There is also a symptom of being stuck on a thought, behavior, or action, which can get stressful. Lack of impulse control can also lead to behaviors like acting out without thinking or even sexual promiscuity. There is also a noticeable lack of awareness of one’s own behaviors and abilities, the inability to think fast, the difficulty in processing thoughts and forming words, and an unusual difficulty in learning new information.

Psychiatric disorders
One of the most common psychiatric disorders associated with Huntington’s is depression. It is to be noted that depression does not develop after the diagnosis of the disease but is developed because of the changes in brain function due to the disease. Some of the associated symptoms also include insomnia, social withdrawal, feelings of irritability, sadness, or even apathy. An individual also experiences loss of energy and fatigue and can also develop thoughts of death or suicide.

Other psychiatric symptoms that can be noted are bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and mania. It is crucial to seek a diagnosis from a health professional to know the right course of treatment and management for the disease.

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