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Guide by Condition: Huntington's disease

Posted by Mike Phipps on December 10, 2018

A white panel with the words – Huntington's Disease – on it


Huntington’s disease is a genetic condition which can be inherited. While there is currently no cure for the disease, there are ways to manage the symptoms effectively and reduce some of the problems it causes with treatments and mobility aids.

What is Huntington’s disease?

Huntington's disease is a genetic condition that is caused by a faulty gene in your DNA that affects the body’s nervous system.  You're usually only at risk of developing it if one of your parents has or had it. Both men and women can get it. While it is possible to develop the disease without your family having a history of it (most likely because a parent wasn’t diagnosed with it). Every child conceived naturally to a parent who carries the Huntington’s gene has a 50% chance of inheriting it.

Symptoms can usually appear between 30 to 50 years which can include depression, stumbling and clumsiness, involuntary fidgety movement, problems swallowing, mood swings, and personality changes as well as memory lapses and difficulty concentrating. A genetic test can find out if you carry the faulty gene, speak to your GP for advice if you are worried you might have symptoms or if it is in your family history.

Juvenile Huntington’s Disease

If Huntington’s is diagnosed before the age of 20, this is referred to as Juvenile Huntington’s Disease.  The HDA reaches out to young people with the disease through a Young Engagement Services which can help to provide one on one or group support sessions. They can help with additional support in daily life such as benefits advice or talking to school/college.

Treatment and support for Huntington’s disease

Medicines can be prescribed for mood swings, depression, and involuntary movements of the limbs while physiotherapy can help with movement and balance. An occupational therapist can help with everyday tasks and daily living. They may suggest certain mobility aids such as reachers, specialist drinking aids to help with any difficulty swallowing, as well as at-home therapy aids that can help with movement and exercise.

More information and help

For more help and information about Huntington’s disease see some links below from support organisations and charities.