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Treatment for Huntington's Disease

Feeding
Impaired coordination may make it difficult for people with Huntington's disease to feed themselves and to swallow. As the disease progresses, people with Huntington's disease may even choke.
 
In helping individuals to eat, caregivers should allow plenty of time for meals. Food can be cut into small pieces, softened, or pureed to ease swallowing and prevent choking. While some foods may require the addition of thickeners, other foods may need to be thinned. Dairy products in particular tend to increase the secretion of mucus, which in turn increases the risk of choking.
 
Some individuals may benefit from swallowing therapy, which is especially helpful if started before serious problems arise. Suction cups for plates, special tableware designed for people with disabilities, and plastic cups with tops can help prevent spilling. The individual's physician can offer additional advice about diet and about how to handle swallowing difficulties or gastrointestinal problems that might arise, such as incontinence or constipation.
 
Nutrition
Proper nutrition is very important as part of Huntington's disease treatment. Caregivers should pay attention to proper nutrition so that the individual with Huntington's disease takes in enough calories to maintain his or her body weight. Sometimes people with Huntington's disease, who may burn as many as 5,000 calories a day without gaining weight, require five meals a day to take in the necessary number of calories. Physicians may recommend vitamins or other nutritional supplements. In a long-term care institution, staff will need to assist with meals in order to ensure that the individual's special caloric and nutritional requirements are met. Some individuals and their families choose to use a feeding tube; others choose not to.
 
Fluids
Individuals with Huntington's disease are at special risk for dehydration, and therefore, require large quantities of fluids, especially during hot weather. Bendable straws can make drinking easier for the person. In some cases, water may have to be thickened with commercial additives to give it the consistency of syrup or honey.
 
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Huntington's Disease Info

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