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Dealing with Huntington’s Disease
Health Tips Article

While much of the focus for aging Americans remains on diseases such as Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, other conditions, such as Huntington’s disease are often overlooked by the media and the general population. Huntington’s Disease, which is considered an inherited disease, leads to the degradation of certain nerve cells in the brain. This “wasting away” is caused by the production of a “mutant protein” that is produced in the body. While the disease is inherited, symptoms do not usually start to appear at least until a person reaches middle age.

When symptoms do surface, the pace of progression can vary greatly depending on the patient. While medicine can be taken to slow the effects of the disease and to provide added comfort for the sufferer, these medicines are, by no means, a cure for Huntington’s. However, following the appropriate treatment protocols as recommended by a doctor is always in your best interest. Getting ahead of a problem is arguably one of the best ways to eradicate it.

Symptoms of Huntington’s Disease

Symptoms of Huntington’s Disease have often led it to be misconstrued as something else by those who witness the first signs of the disease in friends or loved ones. This is due to the fact that some symptoms are similar to those that surface with other conditions:

“Early symptoms of HD may include uncontrolled movements, clumsiness or balance problems. Later, HD can take away the ability to walk, talk or swallow. Some people stop recognizing family members. Others are aware of their environment and are able to express emotions.” (from Huntington’s Disease)

Because Huntington’s Disease is inherited, it is believed that there is roughly a 50/50 chance that a person with one parent with Huntington’s will also display symptoms of the disease. Currently, it affects thousands of Americans who can receive treatment to reduce the effects of the symptoms, but who for now, have no hope for a cure. However, there is currently hope in the medical profession that the treatment of Huntington’s is on the brink of major change. In fact, recent studies have proved to be very positive, and some feel that in the future, combatting the disease head-on will be possible.

Breakthrough in Huntington’s Disease Research

Most who suffer from Huntington’s Disease have been faced with the fact that medicines can alleviate some of the symptoms, but that ultimately they cannot stop the disease and they cannot prevent the continued deterioration of health that occurs. However, several medical researchers now believe that they are moving forward and that new, more effective treatment options might be available.

Recent studies regarding Huntington’s Disease have been headed up by researchers at the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures, and they believe a major breakthrough has been reached, as the study saw:

“Scientists deliver inhibitory RNA sequences from stem cells directly into neurons successfully for the first time. According to study author Jan Nolta, this process will significantly decrease the production of mutant huntington proteins. ‘Our team has made a breakthrough that gives families affected by this disease hope that genetic therapy may one day become a reality,’ she said.” (from Huntington’s Treatment Could be Transformed)

As studies and medical advances move forward, they may continue to provide hope for the future. While this is promising for those affected by Huntington’s and their loved ones, it is definitely seen as something that is coming and not as something that will be readily available. While this might not help many of those currently suffering from the disease, it can provide hope for the generations who will follow.

As Huntington’s Disease is hereditary, it’s important that those predisposed to the disease are aware of their options. Predictive genetic tests are available to those who have a family history of the disease but who are not showing any symptoms. There are also tests that can be administered at the first sign of any of the symptoms to determine whether or not a person could be diagnosed with having Huntington’s Disease. As is the case with many health conditions, if it is detected early, treatment can be administered to help slow the disease’s progression.

As we get older, it’s safe to say that health care becomes a much greater concern for many of us. On the most basic level, we are just faced with more questions concerning our health care coverage like: Is standard Medicare insurance enough for us or do we need to increase coverage by finding a supplemental Medicare provider (Medigap insurance)? However, these types of questions often become secondary to questions regarding very real health concerns that seniors simply have to deal with more often than younger people as they get older from hereditary to enviromental.

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