Understanding the 8 common signs of Huntington’s disease

Understanding the 8 common signs of Huntington’s disease

Huntington’s disease is a brain disorder typically triggered by the alteration in the existing DNA structure of the body. It is a genetic trait that gets passed down from the previous generation and develops due to a single error in one gene. The disease mainly causes deterioration in brain activity that controls important physical, emotional, and mental abilities, affecting one’s daily activities. The following are the early signs of the progression of Huntington’s disease.

Involuntary muscle movements
The brain controls all nerve impulses, which, in turn, control muscles. Due to nerve damage triggered by the disease, the impulses that control these movements are erratic, resulting in jerking or writhing without any control.

Unusual movement of the eyes
Optic nerves control the eye movements and process all the information that is carried to the brain. So, erratic nerve impulses will also trigger unusual movement of the eyeballs, sometimes in different directions without any warning.

Difficulty with speech and swallowing
The brain controls automatic functions like chewing and the amount of food that can be swallowed in one go without the risk of choking. So, any miscommunication or interrupted relay in signal will result in problems with swallowing. With this type of cognitive impairment, it also becomes difficult to control speech and voice control.

The ensuing nerve damage due to Huntington’s will also take a toll on the overall body. Rigid movements, tremors, slow actions, and interrupted communication from the brain can make daily activities difficult. The physical changes can also increase the risk of falls and injuries due to compromised muscle and movement control. All these factors combined lead to extreme fatigue.

Problems with focus
Simple tasks like organizing things and prioritizing tasks will also become problematic as Huntington’s disease progresses into the advanced stages. This is mainly due to damaged or disrupted nerve communications that control these actions.

Memory issues
Cognitive impairment will also affect one’s memory and lead to problems with executing a thought, controlling a behavior, or even pursuing an action. Impulse control can become difficult with cognitive decline, increasing the risk of outbursts. Finally, as the condition advances, one can struggle with processing and retaining new information or have difficulty finding the right words to convey a thought or message.

Irritability and mood swings
Cognitive function also controls all emotional responses that one develops throughout one’s life. With Huntington’s disease progression, the most common psychiatric symptom noticed among adults is depression. The disease alters the brain function, triggering these invariable changes in thought and action, causing irritability and mood swings.

Social withdrawal
Social withdrawal is quite common with developing psychiatric symptoms linked to Huntington’s disease. The affected person will tend to avoid gatherings and social conventions in fear of lashing out if the symptoms flare up unexpectedly or if they cannot follow social etiquette. While the severity of these issues depends on the extent of the disease progression, they tend to have adverse psychological effects on one.

If these symptoms flare up out of control or persist beyond the usual at any point, one must immediately consult with a specialist. Early diagnosis and treatment options can help improve the quality of life for one with Huntington’s disease.