Huntington's Disease

By: Hailey Leisner

What is Huntingtons Disease?

Huntingtons Disease is a disorder that makes the nerve cells in certain parts of the brain degenerate. Huntingtons diesease is passed down through families, and as it gets passed down, the number of chances to get Huntingtons disease gets larger. Some symptoms of Huntingtons Disease most likely will appear when the person with the disease is in between the ages of 25-50, and the symptoms progress and get gradually worse over time. Currently, approximately 30,000 people in the US have Huntingtons Disease. People with Huntingtons Disease will most likely live for only 10-25 years within the time they got diagnosed.

What is the genetic cause for Huntingtons Disease?

Mutations in the HTT gene is what causes someone to get Huntingtons Disease. The faulty gene that causes Huntingtons Disease is found on chromosome number 4. It is caused by repeats of the nucleotide sequence "CAG" on chromosome 4. The more the "CAG" gene repeats itself, the earlier the symptoms of Huntingtons Disease will set in. A normal person produces the gene huntingtin, which is a protien, which a person with Huntingtons Disease has a faulty gene that is much larger than it should be and produces a large form of huntingtin.
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What testing is used to diagnose Huntingtons Disease?

To get tested for Huntingtons disease, a doctor will first look at the persons family history and see if any of their ancestors carried a gene for the disease or had the disease. If someone in their family before has had huntingtons disease, a neurologist can do some simple tests to find out if the person has Huntingtons Disease. These are some of the things a neurologist does to test someone for Huntingtons Disease:

  • -Reflexes
  • -Muscle strength
  • -Muscle tone
  • -Sense of touch
  • -Vision and eye movement
  • -Hearing
  • -Coordination
  • -Balance
  • -Mental status
  • -Mood
  • If the person has some or even all of these symptoms then they go through many tests to see if they have Huntingtons Disease.

    Huntingingtons Disease: symptoms and treatments:

    Th main sympotoms of Huntingtons Disease is the moving and constant jerking of the body. Other symptoms that people with Huntingtons Disease might have are:

    • Behavioral disturbances
    • Hallucinations
    • Irritability
    • Moodiness
    • Restlessness or fidgeting
    • Paranoia
    • Psychosis
    • Disorientation or confusion
    • Loss of judgment
    • Loss of memory
    • Personality changes
    • Speech changes
    • Facial movements, including grimaces
    • Head turning to shift eye position
    • Quick, sudden, sometimes wild jerking movements of the arms, legs, face, and other body parts
    • Slow, uncontrolled movements

    There is so far, no cure for Huntingtons Disease or no known way to stop the disease from getting worse. As the disease gets worse, the person with the disease will soon need to rely on people for everything they need. People with Huntingtons Disease can take medication, but the medication is a only temporary relief from the progressingly awful disease.

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    Huntingtons Disease: affects on family members; & support groups and foundations:

    Huntingtons Disease has an affect on not just the person with the disease, but the family and friends around them too. Financally it can cost the family lots of money to help the person living with Huntingtons Disease. Also, the person with Huntingtons Disease will not be able to take care of themselves or do most things, so they will need a family member to help them. There is a support group called the Huntington's Disease Society of America. This is a place that helps improve the lives of people with Huntingtons Disease, and their familes lives too. They say that their mission is too, "To promote and support research and medical efforts to eradicate Huntington's Disease, to assist people and families affected by Huntington's Disease to cope with the problems presented by the disease, and to educate the public and health professionals about Huntington's disease." This is a great foundation that can help someone find other families that are going through the same situations as their family because of Huntingtons Disease. This website/foundation is here to help people and to show them that they are not alone in their fight to find a cure for Huntingtons Disease.
    Huntington's Disease: A Sad Truth