What Is Huntingtons disease?
Huntington’s disease is an inherited progressive disorder of the brain that causes degeneration or gradual breakdown of the nerve cells in the brain. It is caused due to a defective gene in the chromosome 4. The disease was named after George Huntington who discovered it in the 1800s. Huntington's disease is caused due to changes caused in the brain due to the defect in the protein called huntingtin, which causes a decline in reasoning and thinking capabilities, abnormal involuntary movements, irritability, depression, and other mood-related problems.
Huntington's disease affects a person’s functional capabilities and causes cognitive, psychiatric and movement related disorders. Most of the people who are affected by Huntington's disease begin showing the signs around their 30s and 40s. If the disease occurs before 20 years of age, it is referred to as juvenile Huntington's disease.
What Are The Symptoms Of Huntingtons disease?
Symptoms of the Huntington's disease are:
In the early stage, the changes are quite undetectable and you can keep working, driving and doing other activities, although you may need some extra help.
Some symptoms in the early stages are:
- Fidgeting and movements that cannot be controlled.
- Changes in coordination that affect your balance and make you a bit clumsy.
- Stiffness and slowing of movements.
- Having trouble with processing and problem-solving.
- Irritability and depression.
In the middle stage, the symptoms may begin interfering with day-to-day activities and life and you may also have problems with swallowing, speaking, etc. It may be difficult to be organized and there may be emotional changes too.
- In this stage, you may require being taken care by others.
- Speaking and walking will not be possible.
- The fidgety movements can become severe, but sometimes they may lessen.
In children or teenagers, the Huntington’s disease cause symptoms like:
- Clumsiness increasing.
- Walking becoming awkward and stiff.
- Speech changes.
- Loss of skills that were learned earlier and trouble with learning new information.
What Are The Causes Of Huntingtons disease?
- Huntington’s disease is caused due to a defect in the HD gene. The disease can be passed on from the parent to the child.
- If the parent has the disease, then there is a 50% chance of having the abnormal gene and getting the disease. Both women and men have an equal likeliness of inheriting the defective gene.
- If you do not have the defective gene that causes Huntington’s disease, then you cannot get the disease or it cannot be passed on to your children.
- Huntington’s disease doesn’t skip generations.
What Are The Things One Should Do To Manage Huntingtons disease?
- A person suffering from Huntington’s disease cannot organize things in their mind, so they require help to perform all activities in a sequential manner.
- Encourage the person to do one thing at a time, as they cannot focus one too many things all at once.
- Makes sure that the person suffering from Huntington’s disease have their meals in a quiet environment without a television or any other distraction around, as they can either eat or focus on watching TV and cannot do both at the same time. Also, trying to do two things at a time can cause the patient to become agitated.
- It is a good idea to have small frequent meals instead of 3 large meals that are spaced far apart and always keep second servings.
- Usually, the hygiene in people with Huntington’s disease takes a backseat, so you must ensure that you set a proper routine for brushing teeth, bathing, etc.
- Focus on the patient’s positive behavior and encourage them.
- It is a good idea that the patient rests for 1-2 hours before meals.
- Create a relaxed and calm eating environment and don’t turn on the television or radio when the person is eating.
- Use convenient utensils and cutlery that are easy to hold.
What Are The Things One Should Avoid To Manage Huntingtons disease?
- Avoid yelling and shouting at the person with Huntington’s disease, as this does not motivate them.
- Avoid anxiety and stress as this makes the symptoms of Huntington’s disease worse.
- Avoid feeding the patient in a reclined position and make them sit upright when eating and to prevent choking, the patient must angle their head toward the plate.
- Avoid water or any beverage with food in the mouth, as the varied textures can confuse the patient and cause choking.
- Never rush the person and allow them to eat slowly.
- The patient must not lie down as soon as they eat as this may cause reflux and cause choking.
What Are The Best Foods For Huntingtons disease?
- Choose soft foods that are easy to chew and swallow such as porridge.
- Using gravies and sauces in the food can help to make eating the food more manageable.
- Include ice cream, cream, custards, etc. as desserts.
- Choose foods that are high in calories and also high in nutrition such as milkshakes that are protein-fortified, iced cakes, etc., as patients with Huntington’s disease require high-calorie foods.
- Consume foods that are rich in Vitamin B12 such as eggs, poultry, dairy, meat, etc. as these foods are rich in antioxidants and also have anti-inflammatory properties and are healthy for the brain.
- Consume foods that are rich in antioxidants such as colorful fruits and vegetables as antioxidants are beneficial for people suffering from Huntington’s disease.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are very beneficial for people with Huntington’s disease and help to reduce inflammation. Include olive oil, nut butter, olives, avocados, etc. into the diet.
- Coenzyme Q-10 has been shown to improve the condition of Huntington’s disease by improving the function of the liver, kidneys, hear, and brain. This enzyme can be found in olive oil, soybean oil, fish, pork, chicken, beef, vegetables, nuts, and fruits, which must be consumed in plenty to maintain the quality of life.
What Are The Worst Foods For Huntingtons disease?
- Avoid hard foods like nuts, candies, lollies, etc.
- Avoid foods like bacon, tomatoes, etc. that break into strings while chewing them, as patients with Huntington’s disease cannot eat such foods.
- Avoid non-fat or low-fat food, choose full-fat foods instead.
What Are The Medicines For Huntingtons disease?
What Are The Tips To Manage Huntingtons disease?
- If the patient has problems with swallowing and speech, then a language or speech therapy can be beneficial.
- Physical or occupational therapy can help the patient to control their movements better. Physical activity also slows the progress of Huntington’s disease and it keeps the brain stimulated by releasing hormones and endorphins and prevents the deterioration of the brain.
- A very good way to slow the advance of Huntington’s disease is to relax the mind and the body. Using yoga and meditation can help to improve mental health, reduce stress and anxiety.
- An excellent way to slow down the progress of Huntington’s disease is via detoxification, as sweat removes the toxins that rob the vital resources which help to fight the disease from the body. Encouraging sweating is a great remedy for Huntington’s disease. Eating spicy foods, hot peppers, wasabi, etc. is also a good way of inducing detoxification.
- Exercise can have several advantages for people suffering from Huntington’s disease to stay active and fit as this can help the patient to cope better.
- Having green tea can help to lessen the effects of anxiety and stress caused by Huntington’s disease on the brain.
- Increasing the intake of Vitamin E can help to reduce the decline of the mind of the patient suffering from Huntington’s disease and normalize the life and functioning of the patients.