Huntington’s disease is characterized by a range of disorders in which the person’s cognitive, behavioural, movement and psychiatric parameters get affected. The onset of the disease is very gradual and the initial symptoms differ from person to person.
It is an inherited disease and causes rapid deterioration of brain cells. It is a degenerative disorder. As a result, the person’s physiological, and psychological makeup gets adversely affected. The disease can begin as early as the age of 30. Some of the typical symptoms of Huntington’s disease can be divided into the following categories.
Common Symptoms Of Huntington’s Disease
The mental and organizing capacity of the person gets drastically affected. The person may find it very difficult to organize and prioritize tasks. The person begins to experience speech difficulties and may find it difficult to initiate or contribute in a conversation. Spatial disturbances are commonly seen. Bouts of clumsiness are known to occur. As a result of this, the person may fall and injure himself.
Rigidity and inflexibility in thought and behaviour is also seen. The person often becomes impulsive and irrational. Sexual disturbances like excessively promiscuous behaviour are common among Huntington’s patients. At the same time, the person is very unaware of the fact that there is something wrong with him/her. Assimilation of new information and processing of thoughts becomes very difficult.
Photo Credit: Mregtastic.com/antepartum-blues
Since multiple brain cells begin to die, the disease can severely affect the person’s emotional stability. Depression is one of the most commonly seen symptoms. The person may experience profound sadness, dullness and unhappiness.
Patients lose interest in normal day-to-day activities and withdraw from the world. They become social recluses and prefer to remain confined to their own homes. Insomnia and sleep difficulties are also seen in such patients. Reduced sex drive, changes in the appetite and continuous fatigue are some of the typical symptoms of depression. Suicidal thoughts and feelings of worthlessness may prove to be fatal for these patients.
The patient may also show symptoms of bipolar and manic disorder. In bipolar disorder, the person has alternating episodes of depression and mania. OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) like continuous repetitive behaviour is very common among such patients.
Symptoms Of Juvenile Huntington’s Disease
The disease is also known to occur among younger people and children. This is especially true in families, which have a history of the disease. Young children show a rapid deterioration in their school performance and may unlearn or forget all the skills that they have acquired until now. These include speech skills, social skills and reading skills.
Behavioural problems like lack of attention, aggression, bullying and truancy in school are typically seen. Rigidity in muscle control, difficulty in movement and posture problems may also be present.
The disease also affects the person’s muscle control. This is depicted in the form of rigidity, abnormal eye moments, uncoordinated movements, jerking and repeated fractures due to frequent falls. The balance and posture of the person also gets affected. Since the disease is degenerative, there is no way of reversing it. However, the person can be made to feel better through systematic rehabilitation.
Photo Credit: Medxforum.com/vb/showthread.php?487-Huntington-s-Disease-Simplified