12 Symptoms of Huntington’s Disease

Huntington’s disease (HD) is a hereditary disorder which causes nerve cells to degenerate. The disease typically affects people starting in their 30s or 40s, but it’s possible for younger people to be affected by juvenile Huntington’s disease.

Since the disease affects the brain and nerve cells, patients notice a variety of symptoms. Changes in behavior, problems with coordination, involuntary movements, cognitive difficulties, and problems speaking and swallowing are a few common signs. These symptoms present themselves in varying degrees for each patient.

People can live with Huntington’s disease for 10-25 years. In its earliest stages, the illness presents minimal disruptions to patients’ lives. They may be able to live independently for several years. In middle-stage Huntington’s disease, symptoms become more disruptive, and people will need additional help carrying out everyday tasks. In the final stages, patients need others to care for them.

1. Amnesia

Retrograde amnesia is a common symptom of Huntington’s disease. This form of amnesia makes it difficult for patients to remember events that happened before the onset of illness. Patients may have strong memories from early childhood and young adulthood, but they may have difficulty with faces, names, and facts.

Deficits caused by Alzheimer’s Disease and Huntington’s have both been evaluated on the Dementia Rating Scale in scientific studies. Researchers found that Huntington’s patients commonly demonstrated perseveration and initiation. In other words, patients had difficulty starting new tasks. They were likely to repeat gestures, speech patterns, and responses because of their memory loss.