Huntington’s disease, also called Huntington’s chorea or HD, is a hereditary condition due to the death of neurons or brain cells. It is a progressive brain disorder characterized by uncontrolled movements, emotional problems, and reduced cognition or thinking ability.
According to Mayo Clinic, Huntington’s disease occurs due to a hereditary defect in a single gene. As a autosomal disorder, it means a person just needs one copy of the said gene to develop the condition. This also means that someone with Huntington gene could it to his offspring. Thus, each family offspring has a 50 percent chance of inheriting the defective gene that leads to the development of Huntington’s disease.
Huntington’s disease carries its figures on a global scale. According to Huntington’s New South Wales, it is estimated that about five to seven people for every 100,000 population in Western territories are affected by the condition. In addition, a greater saturation of the disorder has been identified in the Lake Meracaibo area in Venezuela, where the Huntington’s disease prevalence is about 700 for every 100,000 people. Moreover, about 1,600 people have Huntinton’s disease and 6,000 are at risk in Australia while about 12 per 100,000 people is the condition’s prevalence in Tasmania.
The symptoms of Huntington’s disease are primarily motor, cognitive, and psychological in nature. According to Mayo Clinic, the motor symptoms include chorea, which is described as involuntary jerking or writhing movements; dystonia; slow or abnormal eye movements; impaired posture, balance, and gait; dysphagia or difficulty in swallowing; and difficulty of speech.
The cognitive impairments in Huntington’s disease include difficulty organizing, prioritizing, or focusing on tasks; lack of flexibility or inclination to get stuck on a thought, action, or behavior; lack of impulse control, which may lead to outbursts; lack of awareness about one’s own skills and behavior; difficulty learning new information; and delayed thought processes.
As per the publication, depression stands as the most common psychiatric disorder attached to Huntington’s disease. In this regard, it can be accompanied by symptoms like feelings of apathy, sadness, or irritability; social withdrawal, insomnia, fatigue and loss of energy; as well as frequent thoughts of death and suicide.
While medications like antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and involuntary movement suppressants are given to treat Huntington’s disease, home remedies can also be done to complement existing medical management.
One management for Huntington’s disease is training of the mind. According to Dr. Axe’s official website, physicians suggest that family and caregivers of a person with the disorder should help establish a kind of environment that is not stressful, allows decision-making, and promotes learning. Examples are the use of calendar and clear schedules, creation of predictable routine, and setting of reminders. The living area should also be kept organized and certain activities should be prioritized over the others. Also, difficult tasks can be broken down to manageable ones and family conflict or fights should be avoided.
Physical activity delays the progress of Huntington’s disease, according to Organic Facts. As per the publication, exercise stimulates sweating and it keeps the body’s active state, which promotes the release of endorphins and hormones that stimulate the break and prevent it from breaking down. Also, physical activity promotes sweating, which removes toxins from the body. This way, the body will be able to detoxify itself and combat the condition. Other means to promote sweating is to consume spicy foods like wasabi, chili, and hot pepper.
Huntington’s disease has different process than heart attack and cancer; however, it produces symptoms that decrease a person’s level of function. Thus, medical consult is helpful to assess the client, form a plan of care, implement strategies, educate the client and the significant others, and evaluate the management outcome.