Huntington’s disease is the name of a genetic medical condition that affects a person’s nerve cells leading to the deterioration of their motor and cognitive abilities. While the disease was first observed and discussed in the medieval times, it did not receive its name until George Huntington’s paper on the condition clearly examining and describing its symptoms. Furthermore, despite the lack of any advanced instrumentation available today at the time his article was published in 1872, Hamilton was able to determine its genetic component by examining several different generations of the same family all exhibiting similar deterioration of their physical and mental abilities. Today, our understanding of this condition is far more substantial, and while there is still no cure for the disease, there are certain medical options available that help control and manage some of the disease’s symptoms.
Currently, there are many ways in which the Huntington’s disease can be detected. First of all, it is hereditary, and due to gene mutation. Furthermore, a child with just one parent exhibiting the mutation of this gene has a 50% of inheriting the disease, making Huntington’s disease one of the genetically dominant diseases. However, the symptoms experienced by affected individuals do differ, with the majority of them becoming more apparent in the patients between 35 and 45 years of age. Such symptoms may seem inconsequential at first and manifest themselves as slight forgetfulness or clumsiness, but may eventually become more severe. In the majority of patients affected with the disease, the physical symptoms do appear to be exhibited earlier than any mental or behavioral changes. As the physical symptoms worsen and become more severe and more frequent, the individual may become unable to continue working or taking care of themselves and may be in need of assistance from their family or professional home care specialists.
While there is no cure for Huntington’s, there are some treatment options that help manage one’s physical and psychological symptoms. Certain medications that have shown success in treatment of symptoms of Parkinson’s have also been used to treat certain symptoms of Huntington’s. Furthermore, certain types of physical therapy have also shown some potential in preventing the deterioration of the affected individual’s motor skills. In the case of certain psychological symptoms, serotonin-based antidepressants and anti-anxiety benzodiazepine medications have been used to control the symptoms of depression and anxiety caused by being diagnosed with the Huntington’s disease.