Huntington's Disease (HD) is a genetic disease that deals with the progressive degeneration of brain cells. This degeneration is written in the genetic code of the afflicted person who has this disease. Adult on-set Huntington's Disease is the most common form of the disease and will usually appear in a person's 30's or 40's. (Picture of Person With Huntington's Disease)


The symptoms of Huntington's Disease include:

  • Mood Swings
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Trouble Driving
  • Difficult to Learn New Things
  • Trouble Remembering Facts
  • Problems Making a Decision

Inheriting Huntington's Disease

Huntington's Disease is transmitted from a parent to their child by the mutation or misspelling of a normal gene.

This diagram displays how Huntington's Disease can be transmitted.

The genetic defect responsible for Huntington's Disease is a small strand of DNA on chromosome 4. The normal sequence is CGC, but when infected with the disease, the sequence will repeast itself over and over again. When a child has a parent with Huntington's Disease, they will have 50-50 chance of inheriting the disease. If one does not inherit the trait, they will not get the disease and can not pass on any further generations. However, in 1 to 3 percent of individuals with HD, no family history of HD can be found. (Karyotype Picture)

Effects of Huntington's Disease

  • Uncontrolled Movements
  • Loss of Intellectual Faculties
  • Emotional Disturbance

Unlike many genetic disorders, Huntington's disease progresses as an individual ages. As the degeneration of brain cells continues, concentrating on intellectual tasks becomes increasingly difficult and the sufferer may have difficulty feeding him or herself and swallowing. Huntington's disease varies in every case. The rate of disease progression and the age of onset vary from person to person. (Section of Brain Majorly Effected by Huntington's Disease) (Picture of A Normal Brain on the Bottom and a Brain with Huntington's Disease on the Top)

Detection of Huntington's Disease

Genetic testing of a person's DNA to detect Huntington's disease even before he shows symptoms can be performed on his blood samples at an HD testing center.

Treatment Options for Huntington's Disease

Currently, there is no cure for Huntington's Disease. There are medications that can help some of the symptoms but nothing can slow or stop the disease. A speech-language pathologist (SLP) can help at any stage of the disease. They can assist with problem solving and developing strategies to help people with HD compensate for some for some of the problems they might be experiencing. A SLP can evaluate a person's swallowing function and make recommendation that involve positioning issues, feeding techniques, diet consistency changes, and education of the person with HD, family members and caregivers.

What One Can Do To Help Communicate With Someone With Huntington's Disease

  • Speak More Slowly
  • Say One Word At A Time
  • Repeat the Word or Sentence if Necessary
  • Rephrase the Sentence
  • Exaggerate The Sounds
  • Speak Louder
  • Use Gestures
  • Keep Sentences Short

Life Expectency

The average life expectency for someone who is diagonsed with Huntington's Disease is 15 years from the time of diagnosis.

How Common Huntington's Disease Is

Huntington's disease affects an estimated 3 to 7 per 100,000 people of European ancestry. The disorder appears to be less common in some other populations, including people of Japanese, Chinese, and African descent.


By: Russell Grant and Howard Stark