Huntington’s disease (HD) is an inherited disease that results in neurons gradually breaking down and dying. A diagnosis of Huntington’s usually follows severe symptoms of difficulty concentrating, depression, clumsiness, HD chorea and more. There is ongoing research for a cure, but until then, Huntington’s patients can receive treatments and medications such as Teva and Austedo XR. It can be helpful to notice it early, so here are some early warning signs of Huntington’s disease:
1. A parent with Huntington’s disease
Since Huntington’s is an inherited disease, once one of your parents or grandparents receives a diagnosis, you can get a test to see if you will also get it. However, some individuals that are more at risk for the disease choose not to get tested until symptoms appear—it’s all up to you and your preferences.
2. Difficulty concentrating and memory lapses
Early on, cognitive decline from HD may result in difficulty concentrating and lapses in memory, due to the fact that the neurons in the brain are breaking down. As the disease progresses, these symptoms will become worse and concentration and focus will become more and more challenging.
3. Depression or severe mood swings
Behavior and mood changes are some of the biggest indicators of Huntington’s early on. Depression, paranoia, apathy, anger, anxiety, and withdrawal are all possible behavior changes. This can be one of the hardest things for the individual and their family to experience throughout the disease, make sure you and your family have the support you need.
Patients with Huntington’s may find themselves stumbling and being more clumsy than normal. This is due to the fact that speed of gait (manner of walking) becomes slow and results in shorter stride length with an increased variability in steps, causing a lack of coordination and more chances of stumbling.
5. Involuntary jerking (HD chorea)
HD chorea, involuntary jerking or twitching, is a result of Huntington’s disease. Early on, this will start as mild twitching and overtime will increase and worsen. Chorea makes daily activities like eating, drinking, dressing, and showering very challenging.