Misconceptions About People With Huntington Disease

Misconceptions about people with huntington disease

What is Huntington disease?

It is a neurodegenerative disorder which is hereditary and affects brain cells and neurons. Huntington disease manifests in the basal ganglia region of the brain which is the centermost part of the head.

The accumulation of certain protein causes it to happen, and it is incurable. It, however, is a very rare disease but in the US, according to statistics, one in every 10,000 people is known to be affected by it. The signs of Huntington disease usually appear in the late thirties and fifties.

Huntington disease may also alter the physical appearance of a person, and it includes gradual weight loss, sudden forgetful nature, and nil control over speech, fidgeting and other symptoms. Sudden withdrawal is also observed in some cases, and extreme mood swings are common which includes the obvious aggression, excitement, and anger. When the Huntington disease is at its last stage, the affected person may become totally dependent on other people as well as external help even for basic activities like getting up and sitting down and may also not be able to move to places without any help.

This disease usually runs in the family and has nothing much to do with any external factors. However, there are a few myths associated with it that need to be busted:

  • It is believed that the genes of Huntington disease were discovered in 1872, but the evidence and exact location of the genes were discovered in 1983, the location of the breakout being at chromosome 4.
  • Men are believed to be at a higher risk of acquiring this disease which is not true. Both men and women can be equally affected by it.
  • It is believed that the potential patient might show signs and symptoms in the same age as their parent did. However, it is not true. It can vary or occur in later stages of life. The disease generally shows up after the age of thirty or forty in most cases, but then again, it may not be true for all.
  • There is no cure for this disease in particular when doctors are consulted; they usually focus on treating the symptoms of the disease. The cure for this disease is yet to be discovered. However, counseling and various kinds of physical therapies may improve the quality of the patient’s life.
  • Since Huntington disease is rare, many patients are not available for the study, and hence, certain facts are yet to be revealed which may lead to some patients showing different kinds of symptoms on the behavioral and the muscular front.
  • Though the symptoms generally start appearing after thirty years of age, it is not necessary that younger people might not get affected. The ones who show early signs of it are known to have juvenile Huntington disease. The symptoms include the same cognitive, behavioral, muscular and psychological symptoms as the older patients suffering from the disease.
  • Some people believe that the disease might skip generations, but it is not true. It is an autosomal disease, and only one allele is enough to show its effect on the progressing offspring. Therefore if the parents have Huntington disease, the child will have it as well.
  • The main focus is not on discovering the drugs for curing it but to prevent it from happening at all, so the experiments being conducted take both the cases into consideration and not only on discovering medicines.
  • It is often confused with Alzheimer’s because of some common symptoms, but it is very different from it. Huntington disease is an inherited condition. The nerve cells break over a period of time.
  • The disease affects the cognitive thinking abilities of the person as well as their progressive moments. Therefore, people with this disease are often mistaken for being rude, but in reality, their brain starts functioning differently due to which they are unable to differentiate between the right and the wrong behavior, thereby patience is the only key to handle them.
  • Having Huntington disease does not affect the IQ of the person but the only general and cognitive functioning of the brain.

This article busted a few common myths related to the disease. Spreading awareness about the disease can help many people who are suffering from it. There are various communities which work towards it in each country, so if you want to take the initiative, you can volunteer for the same. Mostly, people who have family members affected by Huntington’s are engaged in spreading awareness about the disease. So, we can show support to them and also take help of social media to run certain campaigns.

It must be noted that the symptoms may vary from patient to patient. It is important to get an immediate medical consultation if the symptoms show up.

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