Huntington's Disease: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

Huntington's disease is a genetic disorder that involves progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. The symptoms begin in adulthood and worsen over time.

In the early stages, signs and symptoms of Huntington's disease include changes in coordination, difficulty solving problems, and often depression or mood swings. As the disease progresses, the symptoms worsen and include abnormal, uncontrolled movements (chorea), irritability, anger, problems with balance, inability to walk, inability to speak, memory loss, and difficulty concentrating.

Cause of Huntington's disease

A genetic mutation that one inherits in an autosomal dominant manner (meaning that one copy of the gene defect [from one parent] is all that is necessary to develop the disease) causes Huntington's disease. An affected person's children have a 50% chance of developing the disease.

Other Causes of Huntington's Disease Symptoms and Signs

  • Anger
  • Apathy
  • Changes in Coordination
  • Depression
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Difficulty Solving Problems
  • Difficulty Swallowing (Dysphagia)
  • Hostile Outbursts
  • Inability to Speak
  • Irritability
  • Memory Loss
  • Mood Swings
  • Problems With Balance
  • Unusual and Abnormal Movements (Chorea)

REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

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Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019
References
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
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