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If you think you have the symptoms of Huntington's disease (HD), you're not alone. The disorder is a rapidly progressive condition characterized by a dramatic decline in a person's thinking and reasoning abilities. As a result, sufferers of this disease often experience irritability, depression, and reduced sex drive. This debilitating condition makes patients dependent on others in all areas of their life. Patients with HD often become bedridden and may need assistance with feeding and urination. In addition, people with HD may experience sleep disturbances and problems falling asleep.
The symptoms of Huntington's disease can range from uncontrolled movement to deterioration of intellectual abilities and emotional health. Treatment for this disease is typically based on the patient's symptoms and may include multiple medications. Patients may experience difficulty concentrating, memory lapses, mood swings, and uncharacteristic anger. In some cases, the disease can even progress to the point that a person is unable to communicate his or her feelings.
A genetic condition, Huntington's disease is an uncontrollable condition that affects the nerve cells in the brain. The disease is caused by a mutated gene that produces huntingtin protein, which is found in cells throughout the human body. As the disease progresses, the protein becomes ineffective and the patient develops symptoms that may range from impaired movement to erratic behavior. Some of these symptoms may be present even before the symptoms of Huntington's disease are apparent.
If you suspect you may have Huntington's disease, it is important to consult a physician. Your doctor may perform a genetic test, as well as physical tests and other neurological assessments. Genetic testing can show if you have a faulty gene. Once the results of the test are in, the doctor can determine if you will develop the disease. In some cases, this test can be negative, although it may still be necessary in some cases.
The primary symptoms of Huntington's disease are loss of drive and initiative, as well as deteriorating cognitive function. Early symptoms of the disorder include uncontrollable movement of the face and limbs. Patients with the disease may also have trouble organising their activities, multitasking, and understanding speech. The patient may also develop a self-centred and unmotivated personality, which strains relationships with family and friends.
A Huntington's disease treatment that stops neurodegeneration is a huge goal for scientists. The disease is characterized by a pattern of abnormal immune response, called neuroinflammation. Neuroinflammation leads to further brain damage and cell death. Scientists are currently developing new drugs to fight neuroinflammation. Some of the new treatments include VX15/2503 and laquinimod. Other therapies target nerve cell death and are being studied as potential Huntington's disease treatments.
Depending on the stage of the disease, a young patient may experience difficulty performing familiar tasks, forming new memories, and learning new information. This may be especially difficult for children as they transition through puberty, when they experience an increased sex drive and need for independence. In some cases, the child may require multiple appointments with a specialist before a diagnosis is made. Genetic counseling is another important part of the process. Other treatments may include speech therapy and occupational or physical therapy. Lastly, assistive devices are available to help with changing abilities.
A Huntington's disease support group in Manahawkin, N.J., meets the third Wednesday of every month from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The group has been meeting since January and has about 12 regular attendees. The founder, Bob Sylvia, moved to Manahawkin from Boston late last year. Other members include Stuart Douglas, who has Huntington's disease and is a member of the group.
Huntington's disease is caused by a mutation in the gene that codes for the huntingtin protein. When the gene is altered, the protein becomes abnormally long. Children born to parents with this disease have a 50 percent chance of inheriting the gene. Those children without the altered gene will not develop the disease, but those who inherit the disease will eventually develop it. The good news is that there is treatment for Huntington's and there are many Huntington's disease support groups in the United States.
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