What Are The Symptoms Of Huntington's Disease (HD)?

Early Symptoms

The early symptoms of HD can include:

  • forms of nervous activity like fidgeting, minor twitching in fingers and toes;
  • excessive restlessness;
  • some clumsiness;
  • slight alterations in handwriting; and
  • minor difficulty with normal daily physical skills like driving.

Apart from the physical symptoms of HD, there are often very subtle intellectual or emotional signs as well, such as:

  • short-term memory loss;
  • less ability to organise routine tasks or to cope with new situations;
  • periods of depression, apathy and irritability; and
  • impulsiveness.

If a person has emotional outbursts, does something clumsy or forgets a task it is not necessarily a sign that they have HD. These things can be just as easily experienced by a person who does not have the defective gene at all.

If you would like to talk to someone about the HD symptoms in more detail see "How can I get more information and help?"

Advanced Symptoms

As HD progresses the early physical, intellectual and emotional symptoms become more marked.

In many cases the person with HD will develop involuntary movements like jerks and twitches of the head, neck, arms and legs. Sometimes, people with HD will develop rigid muscles instead of involuntary movement.

All of these physical symptoms can make walking, speech, swallowing and other basic tasks more difficult as the disease progresses.


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