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Huntington'sdisease (HD) is a progressive, inherited, degenerative brain disorder. Itproduces physical, mental and emotional changes. Huntington's disease (namedfor George Huntington, the physician who first described the illness in 1872)used to be known as Huntington's chorea. The name refers to the involuntary,jerky movements that can often be observed in the late stages of the disease.The disease affects the ability tothink clearly, to talk and move. This happens due to the destruction of cellsin the basal ganglia. This is the part of the brain in charge of mentionedcapacities. HD results from a gene mutation, leading to toxic amounts ofprotein in the brain.Ifa parent has this gene, his/her child has a 50 percent chance to also possessit. There are tests that can determine if this is the case even before anysymptoms start emerging. If a child inherits the gene, it will eventuallydevelop the disease. This, however, usually happens later in life, at 35-50. Achild without this gene has no risk of developing the condition nor can it passit on.Symptomsof HD are sometimes very difficult to identify since they can resemble manyothers. Poor memory, indecisiveness, mood changes (depression, anger,irritability), lack of coordination, twitching and uncontrolled movements areall signs that can lead to this diagnosis. The order of manifestation variesgreatly, depending on the individual in question.Physicalsymptoms may include:

Increased clumsinessSlurred speechDifficulty swallowing or eatingStumbling or falling

Mentalsymptoms:

Poor judgmentDifficulty driving

Treatment options are centered on the notion of living with thedisease as comfortably as possible. The focus of these efforts revolves arounddiet, exercise and psychological support.This approach should continue even when HD is confirmed, alongwith any therapies proscribed by the doctor. There are a number of medicationsthat may help in treating this condition. These are best left to the doctor’sdiscretion.

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