Huntington's Disease

Huntington’s Disease? Living & Finding the Treatment You Deserve Today

Updated: 9/27/23

Living with Huntington’s Disease can be exceptionally difficult, making it hard to go about everyday life with little relief from consistent bouts of dizziness, fatigue, and inconsistent movement. While the diagnosis is bleak — there is a lot you can do for your body and mind to make your journey through Huntington’s Disease much easier on yourself. Finding the right care and support system matters more than ever when dealing with challenging situations such as this one; don’t wait to get started on seeking out solutions that are tailored specifically to your unique needs. Read our post today so find out how you can set up customized health treatments suitable for providing long lasting pain management and an improved quality of life!

What Is Huntington’s Disease?

Huntington’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that causes uncontrolled movements, emotional changes and a decline in cognition. It is a hereditary disease, which means it is passed from parents to children. The statistics indicate that people of European ancestry are at an increased risk of developing this disorder. About 3 to 7 in 100,000 people develop Huntington’s disease.

Since the disease is hereditary, patients carry the defective gene that causes Huntington’s from birth. However, the first symptoms probably will not appear right away. Research indicates that juvenile Huntington’s disease is extremely rare. The majority of patients start showing signs between the ages of 30 and 50. From that point, the disease progresses and worsens over time. Depending on the rate of progression, Huntington’s can eventually cause complications such as heart failure and pneumonia. Currently, there is no cure for Huntington’s disease. However, different treatments can help to slow down its progression and help patients manage the symptoms more effectively.

Is Huntington’s Disease Genetic?

As mentioned previously, Huntington’s disease is a genetic disorder that progressively damages nerve cells in the brain, thereby affecting a person’s motor skills, cognitive function, and behavior. It is caused by a mutation in the huntingtin gene, and individuals with a family history of this disease have a 50% chance of inheriting the gene. As the disease progresses, patients may experience symptoms such as involuntary movements, difficulty in speaking, swallowing, and challenges with balance and coordination.

Can Huntington’s Disease Skip a Generation?

it is important to note that Huntington’s Disease cannot completely skip a generation. Due to the nature of how genes are passed down from parents to their children, a mutation in the Huntingtin gene will always be passed down. However, not everyone who inherits the gene will develop the disease. This means that it may appear to have skipped a generation, but the gene was still passed down.

Symptoms of Huntington’s Disease

The symptoms will most likely appear between age 30 and 50. It is unlikely for symptoms to appear sooner or later, but it is not impossible. Huntington’s disease affects patients in three different ways. It causes movement, cognitive and psychological symptoms. The condition is progressive, so it gets worse over time. Eventually it causes disability and death from another illness or an infection. It progresses differently depending on the patient, but usually the duration is about 19 years on average. Most patients survive for about 10 to 25 years.

Movement Symptoms

Huntington’s disease can cause weakened muscles as well as chorea, which causes jerking muscle movements. Research also notes abnormal saccadic eye movements in patients with Huntington’s. The condition also causes problems with gait and posture, although they may be more subtle. It may also cause difficulty swallowing and speaking clearly. The speech impairment may be mild, moderate or severe.

Weight Loss

People with Huntington’s Disease often experience weight loss, which can make the disease more challenging to deal with. The reason for weight loss is not entirely understood, but it is believed to be related to increased metabolism, difficulty with swallowing, and malnutrition caused by a reduced desire to eat.

Cognitive Symptoms

Because Huntington’s disease can damage brain cells, the condition may cause difficulties with self-control. The patient may also become more impulsive. This is especially a warning sign in children, if they become more impulsive than what is considered normal for their age. The condition may also make it harder to concentrate, organize thoughts and solve problems.

Psychological Symptoms

Research indicates that sleep disorders are relatively common conditions associated with Huntington’s. Patients may develop rapid-eye sleep disturbances like insomnia and narcolepsy. Depression is also a common psychological symptom of Huntington’s disease. Fatigue, social withdrawal, suicidal thoughts and prolonged sadness are all symptoms of depression.

Juvenile Huntington’s Disease

Although it is rare, symptoms can develop in children and adolescents. Juvenile Huntington’s disease is similar to adult-onset Huntington’s, but there are some differences. For example, in some cases, behavioral problems may be the first symptom that parents notice, as well as difficulty in school and a sudden decrease in academic performance. It can indicate that the child is having trouble with memory or concentration. Also, seizures are much more common in juvenile cases than in adult ones, especially if the patient shows symptoms before age 10. The condition also progresses more quickly in children than adults. In some cases, it can even be fatal within 10 to 15 years after symptoms appear.

How Does Huntington’s Disease Affect the Brain?

Huntington’s disease primarily affects a group of nerve cells called basal ganglia that plays a crucial role in movement control and decision-making. These nerve cells are damaged over time due to the presence of a defective gene that produces a mutant form of a protein called huntingtin. This protein accumulates in the nerve cells, leading them to die gradually. As the disease progresses, the damage spreads to other parts of the brain, leading to cognitive decline and behavioral changes.

One of the significant symptoms of Huntington’s disease is involuntary movements, known as chorea. It is caused by the progressive destruction of the nerve cells in the basal ganglia that controls movement. As the disease advances, the patient may experience difficulty in walking, speaking, and swallowing. Changes in behavior and mood are also common, with patients experiencing anxiety, depression, and irritability.

Research has also shown that Huntington’s disease affects the brain’s frontal cortex, leading to executive function impairment. This results in a decrease in cognitive abilities such as memory, thinking, and planning. The damage to the brain’s frontal cortex also leads to disinhibition, where patients may exhibit inappropriate behavior and difficulty in controlling impulses.

Huntington's Disease Symptoms

Causes of Huntington’s Disease

Huntington’s disease is genetic, which means that it develops from abnormal gene patterns in the DNA. It is also heritable, meaning it passes from parents to their children. Specifically, it is a genetic mutation in the HTT gene, which is responsible for producing huntingtin protein. It relates to the neurons in the brain, but scientists do not know exactly what the protein does.

HTT is related to a DNA segment called CAG trinucleotide repeat, made up of cytosine, adenine and guanine. They appear sequentially in the gene. HTT contains 10 to 35 repetitions of this segment, but in patients with Huntington’s, it has 36 to 120 repetitions. If an individual has between 36 and 30 repetitions, they may not show symptoms. However, if the individual has more than 40 repetitions, it is very likely that they will develop Huntington’s.

The condition has an autosomal dominant pattern that transfer the gene mutation to offspring. In other words, patients usually only inherit it from one parent and each cell only needs one copy of the mutated gene to cause Huntington’s. It is important to note that all people carry the gene that causes the condition, but when the gene sequence mutates, it causes abnormalities in the brain. The defective gene causes abnormal huntingtin protein production, which can disrupt normal brain function. Although it is rare, it is also possible to develop the disorder without inheriting it from a parent.

How Huntington’s Disease is Diagnosed

Doctors diagnose the condition with genetic tests. The doctor will look at the patient’s DNA to identify any changes in chromosomes, genes and proteins. Specifically, they will draw a blood sample and count the number of times the CAG pattern repeats in the HTT gene.

Treatment for Huntington’s Disease


There is no cure for Huntington’s disease. If necessary, medical professionals may recommend medications to help keep the symptoms under control. For example, tetrabenazine can help control involuntary muscle movements. Doctors may also prescribe antipsychotic drugs, antidepressants and tranquilizers. Therapies aim to help patients manage the symptoms, but they do not treat the condition.

Speech Therapy

Huntington’s attacks the patient’s nerve cells and they may lose control of the muscles in the mouth and throat, making speaking and eating more difficult. However, speech therapy aims to help to slow down the development of these symptoms and help the patient communicate more effectively. The speech therapist can identify which muscles the condition affects the most and help the patient exercise them so that they stay strong for as long as possible. However, the condition is progressive, so treatment will vary over time.

Physical Therapy

Because Huntington’s causes involuntary movements, patients can try physical therapy in an attempt to combat them. Most of the exercises that therapists teach patients aim to prevent them from falling, correct walking, build coordination and help control the body better. Physical therapy requires a lot of persistence and it focuses on long-term results, but some patients do not utilize it. Reports indicate that only 8 percent of patients receive physical therapy. But many studies focus on the positive effects of physical therapy in managing Huntington’s.

Lifestyle Changes

Establish a Routine

Since Huntington’s disease attacks mental performance, it can be helpful for patients to set up a daily routine. Having a consistent schedule for everyday activities—personal care, household tasks, etc.—may help the patient finish tasks more easily. Diaries and calendars can also help.

Adapting the Living Space

Making necessary environmental modifications can help improve overall safety for the HD patient and reduce frustration. Installing handrails, non-slip mats, and grab bars in bathrooms can minimize falls. Ensuring there are no sharp corners or objects in the space can reduce injury risks. Adding adaptive devices, like rounded cutlery or bigger handles, can assist with daily activities such as eating or dressing.

Proper Nutrition and Hydration

Maintaining a balanced diet can also benefit individuals with HD. As HD progresses, patients may experience difficulty swallowing, chewing, and digesting food, which could contribute to malnutrition and dehydration. To avoid these issues, HD patients should include plenty of lean protein, fruits and vegetables in their diets, while minimizing caffeine, alcohol, and sugar. It’s recommended to speak to a nutritionist to help plan a balanced diet that considers the specific needs of an HD patient.

Participating in Projects

Participating in projects or tasks can help patients maintain energy and attention. It may also boost morale if the patient suffers from depression.

Physical Exercise

Exercise is very important for Huntington’s patients. It can help combat fatigue and psychological symptoms, such as depression or sleep disorders. Incorporating exercise into the patient’s routine can help maintain the habit.


Getting enough quality sleep is vital for everyone, but it’s especially important for people with HD. Lack of sleep can exacerbate symptoms such as irritability and cognitive impairment. Try to establish a regular sleep routine by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine before bedtime.


Mindfulness is a practice that promotes awareness and acceptance of the present moment. By practicing Mindfulness meditation on a daily basis, it has been shown to reduce stress levels, improve cognitive function, and boost emotional wellbeing. Practicing mindfulness regularly can help reduce symptoms such as anxiety and depression.

Social support

Living with HD can be isolating and lonely. Social support, whether it’s from family, friends, or a support group, can help reduce the emotional burden of the disease. It can also provide valuable practical support to help manage symptoms.

Is Huntington’s Disease Similar to Parkinson’s?

Despite their differences, Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease share some common features. For example, they both result in the degeneration of neurons in specific areas of the brain. Also, both disorders are hereditary and have a genetic component. However, Huntington’s disease is caused by a single dominant gene mutation, while Parkinson’s disease is more commonly associated with multiple genetic variants and environmental factors.

Another similarity between Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease is that they both can cause cognitive impairment and psychiatric symptoms such as depression, anxiety, irritability, and apathy. In Huntington’s disease, cognitive impairment typically manifests as memory loss, difficulty with organization and planning, and decreased attention and concentration. In Parkinson’s disease, cognitive impairment affects mainly executive functions, such as decision-making, problem-solving, and multitasking.

Supplements for Huntington’s Disease

Additionally, patients can consider supplements that may address symptoms of Huntington’s disease. However, supplements are not a cure for any medical treatment. They are to benefit overall health. Always consult a doctor before starting a supplement regimen.


The brain stores phosphocreatine and since Huntington’s disrupts brain function, creatine is there to help maintain optimal brain function. Studies show that supplements can slow the progression of some neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s. Scientific studies also confirm that creatine can help delay the onset of Huntington’s disease symptoms.

There are many different forms of creatine. Creatine monohydrate is the most similar to what the liver, kidneys and pancreas produce naturally. As a dietary supplement, take 2,500 to 5,000 mg a day. Try to take it before a workout or other physical activity. Consult a doctor before taking this supplement.

Vitamin C

Studies suggest that oxidative stress can worsen neurodegenerative conditions. Antioxidants help reduce oxidative stress in the body that can cause signs of aging and disease. One common example is Vitamin C. A healthy diet full of foods with strong antioxidant properties is a good way to do it. But supplements can help maintain a consistent daily dosage. As a daily supplement, take 1,000 mg of Vitamin C powder a day, after consulting a doctor.

N-acetylcysteine (NAC)

N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is an amino acid that helps the body make glutathione, a powerful antioxidant. One study found that NAC supplements improved motor function in people with HD. Additionally, NAC may help reduce psychiatric symptoms in people with HD, such as depression and anxiety.


With very high antioxidant properties, resveratrol can also help combat oxidative stress. Researchers also hypothesize that it may help interfere with beta-amyloid, which form plaques that cause Alzheimer’s disease. The recommended dosage for pure resveratrol is one capsule per day, or following a doctor’s instructions.


Bacopa is an herbal supplement that has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine to improve cognitive function. A study of people with HD found that those who took bacopa had improved verbal memory and attention compared to those who did not take the supplement. More research is needed, but this suggests that bacopa may be helpful for people with HD who are experiencing cognitive decline.

Coenzyme Q10

Also an antioxidant, Coenzyme Q10 (COQ10) helps delay signs of aging and disease. It occurs naturally in the body and there are also several dietary sources, including beef, chicken, egg yolks, fatty fish, dairy, fruit and vegetables. Studies suggest that it can potentially help treat neurodegenerative disorders by interfering with excess beta-amyloid production that cause neurodegenerative conditions. The recommended dosage for Coenzyme Q10 (COQ10) powder is 50 to 200 mg, or following a doctor’s instructions.


From the Linum usitatissimum plant, flaxseed is a small plant-based protein. They host minerals like manganese and thiamine (Vitamin B1) and provides dietary fiber. They are high in antioxidants and help reduce signs of aging and balance hormones. Flaxseed may also be beneficial to manage mental illness, including depression, which is a symptom of Huntington’s disease. As a dietary supplement, take one to three flaxseed oil softgels daily with meals after consulting a doctor for dosage and safety information.

Gingko Biloba

Gingko biloba is an herb that has been used for centuries to improve cognitive function and memory. Some studies have shown that it may also be effective in reducing certain symptoms of Huntington’s disease, such as tremors and stiffness. However, it can interact with some medications, so be sure to talk to your doctor before taking gingko biloba supplements.

The Bottom Line

Huntington’s disease is a progressive, genetic brain disorder without a cure. It develops as a result of a mutation in the HTT gene that causes the body to produce an excess amount of huntingtin protein. The condition causes movement, cognitive and psychological symptoms. Patients experience involuntary muscle movements, making jerking motions and abnormal eye movements. It also causes difficulties speaking and swallowing. Patients also have difficulty concentrating and solving problems, as well as with impulse control. Depression, insomnia and narcolepsy are also common psychological symptoms.

There is no cure for Huntington’s disease, but speech and physical therapies aim to slow the symptoms’ progression for as long as possible. Doctors may also prescribe medications to address mental health difficulties and involuntary muscle movements. There are also several supplements that studies suggest may help treat neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease. However, supplements are not a cure for any medical condition. They are to promote overall health.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease

Author: BulkSupplements Staff