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Nikhil Hospitals

Huntington’s Disease Treatment in Hyderabad

Huntington’s disease is a rare, inherited disease that causes the progressive breakdown (degeneration) of nerve cells in the brain. Huntington’s disease has a broad impact on a person’s functional abilities and usually results in movement, thinking (cognitive) and psychiatric disorders. Huntington’s disease symptoms can develop at any time, but they often first appear when people are in their 30s or 40s.

If the condition develops before age 20, it’s called juvenile Huntington’s disease. When Huntington’s develops early, symptoms are somewhat different and the disease may progress faster. Huntington’s disease (HD) is a neurological condition. It is an inherited disease that happens due to faulty genes. Toxic proteins collect in the brain and cause damage, leading to neurological symptoms. There is currently no cure, but treatment can help with symptoms.

Causes of Huntington’s Disease

Huntington’s disease is caused by an inherited defect in a single gene. Huntington’s disease is an autosomal dominant disorder, which means that a person needs only one copy of the defective gene to develop the disorder. A parent with a defective gene could pass along the defective copy of the gene or the healthy copy. 

Some brain cells are sensitive to the larger form of Huntington, especially those related to movement, thinking, and memory. It undermines their function and eventually destroys them. Scientists are not sure exactly how this happens.

Symptoms of Huntington’s Disease

Although symptoms may first show up in midlife, Huntington’s can strike anyone from childhood to advanced age. Symptoms often first appear when people are in their 30s or 40s. Over 10 to 25 years, the disease gradually kills nerve cells in the brain. 

This affects the body, mind, and emotions. Some symptoms are easier to spot than others. Abnormal movements may be the first thing you notice. Weight loss can be a concern at all stages. Symptoms of Huntington’s disease tend to develop in stages. Early symptoms may not be recognized if it has not previously occurred in the family. It can take a long time to reach a diagnosis.

Initial signs and symptoms include:

  • Slight uncontrollable movements
  • Small changes in coordination and clumsiness
  • Stumbling
  • Slight signs of mood and emotional change
  • Lack of focus, slight concentration problems
  • Lapses in short-term memory
  • Depression
  • Irritability

The middle and later stages

In time, symptoms become more severe. These include physical changes, loss of motion control, and emotional and cognitive changes.

Diagnosis

A preliminary diagnosis of Huntington’s disease is based primarily on your answers to questions, a general physical exam, a review of your family medical history, and neurological and psychiatric examinations. Imaging tests, such as a CT or MRI scan, are sometimes used to identify changes in the patient’s brain structure, and to rule out other disorders. Genetic testing may be recommended to confirm a diagnosis. 

A neurologist may test:

  • Reflexes
  • Muscle strength
  • Balance
  • Sense of touch
  • Vision
  • Hearing

Treatment

No treatments can alter the course of Huntington’s disease. But medications can lessen some symptoms of movement and psychiatric disorders. And multiple interventions can help a person adapt to changes in his or her abilities for a certain amount of time. Medications will likely evolve over the course of the disease, depending on overall treatment goals. Also, drugs that treat some symptoms may result in side effects that worsen other symptoms. Treatment goals will be regularly reviewed and updated.

For now, treating Huntington’s involves managing symptoms:

  • Medications can help control fidgety movements. Your doctor can work closely with you to manage any side effects and to change medications if needed.
  • Some antipsychotic drugs have a side effect that controls movement and have been helpful for some people.
  • Antidepressants can also help with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  • Mood-stabilizing drugs can ease symptoms of mood disorders but may cause other side effects.
  • Speech or language therapy may be helpful for any problems with speech or swallowing.

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