Huntington’s disease (HD) is a hereditary, progressive brain disorder characterized by uncontrolled movements, mental instability, and loss of thinking ability.
There is no cure for HD and no way to stop it from worsening. It is an autosomal dominant disease, which means that if one parent has the disease, there is a 50% chance that the child will have it.
The disease goes on to progresses over several years and can be divided into five stages.
- Stage 1: Preclinical stage
- Stage 2: Early stage
- Stage 3: Middle stage
- Stage 4: Late stage
- Stage 5: End-of-life stage
5 Stages of Huntington’s Disease
HD Stage 1: Preclinical stage
- The preclinical stage is when mild symptoms start appearing, but the doctor has not diagnosed the person to have Huntington’s disease (HD).
- Symptoms of HD most commonly start between 40 and 60 years of life, but they can appear as early as 2 years or as late as 80 years.
- The affected person can usually carry out all their day-to-day work without requiring any assistance.
- Mood problems may appear at this stage.
HD Stage 2: Early stage
- The symptoms become noticeable enough to arrive at the diagnosis of Huntington’s disease (HD).
- There may be twitches or slight tremors in the hands or face, which may be missed as nervous tremors.
- Although people with HD carry out most of their daily activities, some activities do require help from people around them.
- The affected people can usually go or drive to work by themselves.
- There may be trouble in eating and sleeping.
- Thinking becomes difficult for some tasks that appeared simple earlier.
- The person grapples with depression, anxiety, and irritability.
HD Stage 3: Middle stage
- At this stage, people with Huntington’s disease (HD) are unable to carry out most of the activities on their own.
- Substantial help is needed from the people around in activities involving domestic and financial chores.
- People start experiencing difficulty in swallowing, and slurring of speech may be noticed.
- They might experience difficulty in walking and maintaining balance.
- There is drastically worsening in the thinking ability of the affected person.
- The person might experience difficulty in learning new things and remembering information.
- Depression and irritability become evident at this stage.
- Sex drive or performance may be reduced.
HD Stage 4: Late stage
- By this stage, people with Huntington’s disease (HD) require assistance in all areas of life and become bedridden.
- Movements become extremely slow and rigid.
- They are unable to convey what they feel because of speech impairment.
- The inability to swallow necessitates the use of a feeding tube that is inserted surgically into the stomach.
- People may become constipated or have trouble urinating.
- Extreme difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep is experienced.
HD Stage 5: End-of-life stage
The end-of-life stage is when patients become confined to the bed completely and dependent on others for all their activities. They need help to live the last few months or years of their lives peacefully and in the best way, they can.
- Patients may choose whether to spend their last moments in a hospital or at a familiar place such as their home.
Patients with Huntington’s disease (HD) usually live for anywhere between 10 and 20 years after the symptoms first appear. The cause of death usually is a complication of HD, such as pneumonia. Pneumonia in such patients results from aspiration of food into the lungs.
Doctors may refer to only the three stages of HD, namely, early, middle, and late for ease of explaining to the patients.
How early the stages begin and how severe the symptoms differ among patients with HD. These differences have been linked to variations in genetic mutation causing HD.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Huntington's Disease. Available at: https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1150165
Stages of Huntington’s Disease. Available at: https://hopes.stanford.edu/stages-of-huntingtons-disease/
Huntington's Disease. Available at: https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-dementia/types-of-dementia/huntington-s-disease
Top What Are the 5 Stages of Huntington’s Disease? Related Articles
Dementia Foods: Foods that May Lower Dementia RiskWhat foods are associated with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia? Cognitive function is predicated on good nutrition. Learn how vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins like fish can lead to a healthier brain. Discover why foods that stave off heart disease are good for brain function.
DementiaDementia is defined as a significant loss of intellectual abilities such as memory capacity, severe enough to interfere with social or occupational functioning. There are several different types of dementia, including cortical, subcortical, progressive, primary, and secondary dementias. Other conditions and medication reactions can also cause dementia. Dementia is diagnosed based on a certain set of criteria. Treatment for dementia is generally focused on the symptoms of the disease.
Bad Brain Health HabitsGood brain health depends on exercising regularly, eating well, and getting enough sleep. Learn how to develop good health habits to protect your brain against neurodegeneration, Alzheimer's disease, and other kinds of dementia.
The Stages of Dementia: Alzheimer's Disease and Aging BrainsWhat are the symptoms of dementia? What causes dementia? Dementia includes many disorders, such as Lewy Body dementia, Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, and more. Learn the warning signs of dementia.
What Is the Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimer's?Dementia is a group of symptoms (syndrome) characterized by a decline in memory, thinking and reasoning. Although dementia is a cluster of symptoms, Alzheimer’s is a slowly progressive disorder of the brain that destroys memory and thinking skills.
Early Warning Signs and Stages of DementiaDementia is a decline and or loss of behavior of mental abilities, loss of judgment, language, and reasoning. Early warning signs of dementia include misplacing items, difficulty planning or problem solving, poor work performance, difficulty doing familiar tasks, and withdrawal from social activities.
There are seven stages of dementia that range from stage 1, with no cognitive decline to stage 7, which is severe dementia.
Reasons for Memory Loss and Dementia RiskForget your keys? That might be absentmindedness. Forget what you did this morning? That might be a more serious memory problem. Find out what causes memory loss and what you can do about it.
Huntington's Disease PictureHuntington's disease is a hereditary disorder caused by a faulty gene for a protein called huntingtin. See a picture of Huntington's Disease and learn more about the health topic.
What Are the Seven Stages of Dementia?The progression of dementia (in Alzheimer’s disease) has been divided into seven stages. Learn about treatment, prevention, and foods that can help fight dementia.
What Is the First Sign of Huntington's Disease?The first signs of Huntington's disease often appear when people are in their 30s or 40s and may include clumsiness, stumbling, or difficulty focusing.