Huntington's Disease

Madyson White

Brief Diagnosis

Huntington's Disease, or HD, is an inherited, genetic disorder that causes dynamic degeneration of nerve cells within the brain. Huntington's Disease greatly impacts a person's abilities and results in movement, and cognitive and psychiatric disorders. Men and women develop their signs and symptoms in their thirties and forties. However, they may develop HD earlier or later on in life. If someone who is under the age of twenty how have HD, it is called Juvenile Huntington's Disease. Medication is available to help manage the symptoms. However, treatments cannot prevent the physical, mental, and behavioral aspects correlated with HD.

Causes

HD can be caused by an inherited defect in a single gene. HD is a autosomal dominant disorder. This means that a person only needs one copy of a defective gene to develop this disorder. Exceptions include the genes on the sex chromosome. A person inherits a copy of a gene from each parent. A parent with a defective HD gene could be pass either a defective copy or a healthy copy to the child. Circumstances would be that each child born into the family has a fifty percent chance of receiving the gene carrying the disorder.

Morality Rates

After the outbreak of Huntington's Disease, the victim' operative abilities will gradually worsen over the course of time. The rate of this disease's progress and duration will vary. The time from the outbreak to death is between ten and thirty years. Juveniles with Huntington's Disease will result in death withing ten years. The depression associated with this disease can increase the rick of suicide. "Some research suggests that the greater risk of suicide occurs before a diagnosis is made and in middle stages of the disease when a person has begun to lose independence." Probable causes of death may include Pneumonia, fall related injuries, or the inability to swallow.

Symptoms

Huntington' s Disease causes movement, cognitive, and psychiatric disorders with a large range of symptoms. Not all patients will receive the same symptoms at any given time. During the different stages of this disease, some disorders will appear dominant than others. Muscle disorders correlated with this disease include Chorea, Dystonia, slow or abnormal eye movement, defective walking, posture and balance, speech or swallowing difficulties. Cognitive disorders correlated with Huntington's disease include having a difficult time organizing, prioritizing, or focusing on tasks, perseveration, no impulse control, etc. The most common psychiatric disorder correlated with Huntington's Disease is depression. Symptoms include insomnia, fatigue, frequent thoughts of suicide, social withdrawal, or feeling irritable, sad, or apathetic. Other psychiatric disorders include OCD, Mania, or Bipolar Disorder. Weight loss is also common to patients with Huntington's Disease. Juveniles with Huntington's Disease will receive slightly different symptoms than adults. Behavioral changes include rapid, significant drop in school performance, or loss of previous learned skills. Physical changes include tremors, seizures, changes in motor skills, or contracting muscles that effect the ability to walk.

Treatment

Huntington's Disease is incurable. However, medicine can help degrade some movement and psychiatric disorders. Therapy may help a patient readjust to the new changes in heir abilities for a certain period of time. Managing the medicine may evolve the course of the disease, depending on treatment goals. Drugs that treat some symptoms may result in side effect that aggravate other symptoms. Xenazine is a medication for movement disorders to suppress chorea. A serious side effect would be the risk of aggravating depression or other psychiatric disorders. Other side effects include drowsiness, nausea, and anxiety. Other medications include Haldol, Risperdal, Seroquel, Amantadine, etc. Medicine for psychiatric disorders vary depending on the disorder and its symptoms. Antidepressants like Prozac, Zoloft, or Lexapro have effects on treating OCD. Side effects include drowsiness, diarrhea, low blood pressure, and nausea. Different types of therapy may help with symptoms. Psychotherapy may help a patient manage their behavioral problems, developing coping strategies, etc. Speech therapy can help the patient's ability to speak clearly. Physical therapy provides exercises that help enhance a patient's strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination. Occupational therapy can help a patient, family, and their caregivers the use of devices that will improve abilities.

Treatment Centers

Emory University School of Medicine is the Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases.