There are some diseases that nearly everyone has heard about because there are several thousand victims and other situations which raise awareness. One that is near and dear to our heart here at The Almost Home Group that hasn’t gotten the attention it needs is Huntington’s Disease (HD). Since May is Huntington’s Disease Awareness Month, we thought we’d share with you about what HD is and who is at risk.
Huntington’s Disease is a genetic disorder where the nerve cells in the brain progressively break down. At this time, there are roughly 30,000 Americans experiencing the symptoms of this incurable disease and greater than 200,000 more at risk of inheriting HD. Since the symptoms don’t often present until after the age of 30, it isn’t uncommon for people to unwittingly have children who could develop HD in their lifetime. It takes inheriting the HD gene and the expansion of the gene to develop Huntington’s Disease. If you have a family member exhibiting symptoms, you should consider genetic testing.
The symptoms of Huntington’s Disease are varied from individual to individual, but will eventually cause issues with speaking, walking, and present cognitive issues. Here are the most common symptoms that can begin and progress throughout the 10 to 40-year progression of this disease that is ultimately fatal.
- Psychiatric Symptoms – Huntington’s disease can affect psychological wellbeing with symptoms that include personality changes, mood swings, and depression.
- Cognitive Symptoms – Being able to think well is also impaired with this unforgiving disease. Symptoms include forgetfulness and impaired judgement, which can be misdiagnosed. This is especially true, since HD is like having ALS, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s all at once.
- Motor Symptoms – The third in the triad of symptoms of HD is physical symptoms, including an unsteady gait, involuntary movements, swallowing difficulties leading to weight loss, and slurred speech.