Symptoms of Huntington Disease
The type of Huntington disease a person has will affect the signs and symptoms experienced. In the case of the adult-onset form of the illness, symptoms of Huntington disease typically begin in middle age and may include irritability, depression, small involuntary movements, and poor coordination. Juvenile (or early-onset) symptoms usually begin before age 20 and may include slowness, rigidity, slow speech, seizures, and loss of motor skills.
Adult-onset Huntington disease (also known as Huntington's disease or HD) is the most common form of Huntington disease and usually begins in middle age. There is also an early-onset form of the disease (juvenile Huntington disease) that begins in childhood or adolescence. Some of the Huntington disease symptoms for the early-onset form differ from those of the adult-onset form.
Symptoms of adult-onset Huntington disease can include:
- Mood swings
- Small involuntary movements
- Poor coordination
- Trouble learning new information or making decisions.
As the disease progresses, involuntary jerking movements (chorea) become more pronounced. Affected individuals may have trouble walking, speaking, and swallowing. People with symptoms of Huntington disease also typically experience changes in personality and a decline in thinking and reasoning abilities.
Individuals with this form of Huntington disease generally survive about 15 to 25 years after the symptoms appear.
Early-onset Huntington disease symptoms can include:
- Rapid decline in school performance
- Loss of developmental milestones, such as those involving motor skills
- Slow speech
Seizures occur in 30 to 50 percent of individuals with early-onset Huntington disease.
The course of early-onset Huntington disease may be shorter than the adult-onset form; affected individuals generally survive 10 to 15 years after the disease begins.