Huntington’s disease is also called Huntington’s chorea and is an inherited disorder that causes the gradual deterioration and eventual death of neurons – the specialized cells present in the brain. 

This disease is named after George Huntington, the renowned American physician of the late 19 century, who explained its trigger factors and characteristic signs, in great depth in his research works.

Huntington’s disease is a hereditary disorder and is usually passed on to the child from either one of the affected parents. An abnormality in a single gene in the body, known as the Huntingtin gene, is the primary cause of this neurological ailment.

Huntington’s disease will typically develop in an individual in their 30s or 40s, but sometimes in their later years too, with symptoms worsening over the next one to two decades, eventually leading to irreparable brain damage and death.

Huntingtons's Disease

Due to this disorder’s complex genetic nature, there is no known cure for Huntington’s until now. Highly specific drugs are ingested by the affected person, to assist in controlling the extreme levels of cognitive decline that they undergo.

Further awareness of the symptoms and treatment options available for Huntington’s disease, as well as advanced research,  are the need of the hour, in effectively reducing the incidence of this severely debilitating condition.

Symptoms:

The evident signs of a person with Huntington’s disease include:

Movement Disorders:

  • Involuntary jerking motions (referred to as chorea)
  • Imbalanced posture
  • Uncontrolled eye movements

Cognitive Disorders:

  • Challenges in absorbing new information
  • Difficulty in speaking coherently

Psychiatric Disorders:

  • Insomnia and fatigue
  • Socially awkward and isolated, depressed

Diagnosis And Treatment:

When an individual demonstrates obvious signals of deteriorating brain function, the physician will first conduct a complete physical exam and also review their family history thoroughly.

This is followed by a neurological examination to assess various parameters of the person’s motor functions, sensory abilities and mood disorders. A basic psychiatric test to determine their emotional state, as well as memory performance, is also conducted by the healthcare provider.

If apparent indications of decay of healthy cerebral cells are observed, advanced imaging tests are performed, including MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and CT (computerized tomography). These depict the various sections of the brain, to help assess their current status of detriment.

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the person affected by Huntington’s disease is prescribed antidepressant medications, to manage symptoms of anxiety and insomnia. Certain lifestyle modifications are also recommended by the doctor, to aid in enabling movement for performing normal day to day tasks.

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