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Huntington’s Stages and Treatment

Scott Loeb DO
Medically reviewed by Dr. Loeb
Scott Loeb DO
Medically reviewed by Dr. Loeb

The physical abilities of a person are essential. They are vital for maintaining an active and healthy life. But in the modern world, there are diseases that disrupt a person’s ability to live and move normally. One such neurological disorder is Huntington’s disease. 

 This illness greatly affects a person’s ability to move around. It disrupts the habitual rhythm of a person and can lead to depression. Today, there are 5 main Huntington’s stages. Each of them has its own signs and treatments.

Timely treatment is vital. It helps to successfully get rid of early signs of Huntington’s disease. With the help of a professional neurologist, patients can quickly recover. And they can establish their usual rhythm of life.

This article will explore the different stages of HD and the treatment options. We will also discuss the current research on HD and potential future treatments.

5 Stages of Huntington’s Disease and Treatment 

HD is a chronic and debilitating illness. It often leads to premature death within 15 to 20 years of onset. Huntington’s disease progression goes through different stages. Specific signs and individual abilities changes characterize each stage. Understanding Huntington’s stages is crucial. It helps to develop effective treatment plans and improve the quality of life.

There is no cure for HD. But some treatments help to manage its signs. And they slow down Huntington’s disease progression.

It is vital to note that treatment plans for HD must be tailored to the individual’s specific needs. It’s because signs and Huntington’s disease progression can vary greatly among patients. A multidisciplinary approach involving healthcare professionals from different fields is often necessary to develop an effective treatment plan.

This block will explore the five stages of HD. And we will look at the various treatment options available.

huntington's stages

Stage 0: Preclinical Stage

This one of 5 stages of Huntington’s disease, also known as the asymptomatic stage, is the earliest stage. During it, individuals do not exhibit any significant motor signs. And their cognitive and behavioral abilities are typically normal. But genetic testing may reveal the presence of the mutation that causes HD. This stage is often referred to as preclinical. It’s because individuals do not show any visible illness signs yet.

Symptoms

During this Huntington’s stage, individuals do not exhibit any significant signs of HD. But genetic testing may reveal the presence of the mutation that causes HD. This can cause significant emotional distress for individuals and their families. They may be uncertain about their future health outcomes.

Treatment

There is no cure for HD. But genetic counseling helps understand the risk of developing the illness. Genetic counseling provides individuals and families with information about HD.

Stage 1: Early Stage

The early stage of HD is the first stage where motor signs become evident. Mild movement disorders characterize it. First symptoms of Huntington’s disease may be barely noticeable. Or they’re dismissed as normal aging. Individuals may also experience changes in mood and behavior. It may be attributed to stress or other factors.

Symptoms

Mild movement disorders characterize this one of 5 stages of Huntington’s disease. They are involuntary twitching or jerking movements, minor balance issues, and slight difficulties with fine motor skills such as typing or handwriting. Cognitive signs may also be present. They’re mild forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, and decreased processing speed. Behavioral changes, such as irritability, mood swings, and depression, may also occur.

Treatment

Treatment for the early Huntington’s stage includes medications to manage movement and psychiatric signs. Physical and occupational therapy may also be beneficial in maintaining mobility and function. Also, support groups can help cope with the emotional and psychological impact.

Stage 2: Early Intermediate Stage

The early intermediate stage of HD is the second stage of the illness. A further decline in motor function and cognitive abilities characterizes it. During this stage, individuals may have difficulty performing daily activities. And they may need help with some tasks.

Symptoms

First symptoms of Huntington’s disease are motor ones. They become more pronounced, with involuntary movements becoming more frequent and pronounced. Balance issues and gait problems may become more noticeable. It makes it difficult to walk and perform other activities. Cognitive signs may also worsen. Memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and reduced problem-solving abilities are becoming clearer. Behavioral changes may include: 

  • Apathy.
  • Social withdrawal.
  • Impaired judgment.

Treatment

Treatment may include medications to manage movement and psychiatric signs. Physical and occupational therapy may also be beneficial in maintaining mobility and function. Also, counseling helps cope with the emotional and psychological impact of the illness.

Stage 3: Late Intermediate Stage

The late intermediate Huntington’s stage is the third stage of the illness. A further decline in motor function and cognitive abilities characterizes it. During this stage, individuals may need significant help with daily activities. They’re eating, dressing, and personal care.

Symptoms

During Huntington’s disease progression, motor signs become even more pronounced. And involuntary movements become more frequent and severe. Balance and gait problems may become severe. It makes it difficult to walk without help. Cognitive signs may also worsen. They’re memory loss, confusion, and disorientation. Behavioral changes may include aggression, impulsivity, and agitation.

Treatment

Treatment of early signs of Huntington’s disease may include medications to manage movement and psychiatric signs. Physical and occupational therapy may also be beneficial in maintaining mobility and function. Also, speech therapy may be necessary to help individuals with communication difficulties. Hospice and palliative care may also be introduced. It’s to provide comfort and ease signs.

Stage 4: Early Advanced Stage

The early advanced Huntington’s stage is the fourth stage of the illness. A significant decline in motor function and cognitive abilities characterizes it. Individuals may be unable to perform daily activities without significant help. And they may need full-time care.

Symptoms

During Huntington’s disease progression, motor signs become severe. Individuals experience rigidity, dystonia, and bradykinesia. Communication becomes difficult, with individuals experiencing significant speech difficulties. Cognitive signs become more severe. Individuals experience significant memory loss, disorientation, and difficulty recognizing familiar faces. Behavioral changes may include compulsive behavior and impulsivity.

Treatment

Treatment for the early signs of Huntington’s disease within the early advanced stage focuses on palliative care. It’s to provide comfort and alleviate signs. Medications may manage movement and psychiatric signs. Physical, occupational, and speech therapy may also be beneficial. It helps to maintain mobility, function, and communication. Hospice and palliative care may also provide comfort and reduce signs.

Stage 5: Advanced Stage

The advanced stage of HD is the final stage of the illness. It’s characterized by  complete dependence on others for all daily activities. Individuals in this stage are often bedridden and may be unable to communicate.

Symptoms

During Huntington’s disease progression of the advanced stage, motor signs become severe. And individuals experience significant rigidity, dystonia, and bradykinesia. Communication becomes extremely difficult or impossible. People experience significant speech difficulties or lose the ability to speak altogether. Cognitive signs become severe. There is significant memory loss, disorientation, and difficulty recognizing familiar faces. Behavioral changes may include aggression, psychosis, and depression.

Treatment

Treatment for the early signs of Huntington’s disease within the advanced stage of HD focuses on palliative care. It aims to provide comfort and alleviate signs. Medications may manage movement and psychiatric signs. Physical, occupational, and speech therapy may also be beneficial.

Cocnlusion

In conclusion, Huntington’s disease progresses through different stages. Each of 5 stages of Huntington’s disease is characterized by specific signs and changes in an individual’s abilities. There is no cure for the illness. But treatment options are available to manage first symptoms of Huntington’s disease and improve quality of life. Understanding the stages of HD is crucial. It helps to develop effective treatment plans and improve outcomes. 

FAQs:

  • How quickly does Huntington’s progress?

The progression of Huntington’s disease can vary widely from person to person. And it can be difficult to predict how quickly the disease will progress. In general, the disease tends to progress gradually over a period of 10-25 years, from the onset of symptoms to the advanced stage of the disease.

  • What causes death in Huntington’s?

They are complications related to the disease. They are pneumonia or other infections. Or it can be complications related to falls or other injuries. They’re caused by movement and coordination difficulties. But suicide is also a significant cause of death among individuals with HD.

  • How painful is Huntington’s?

Huntington’s disease itself does not typically cause significant physical pain. But individuals with the disease may experience discomfort or pain. It results from complications related to the disease. They are muscle rigidity or dystonia. Also, living with HD’s psychological and emotional burden causes distress and pain.

  • How common is Huntington’s disease?

Huntington’s disease is a relatively rare genetic disorder. It affects approximately 1 in every 10,000 people worldwide. The disease tends to occur more frequently in certain populations. Those are of European descent.

  • What is the life expectancy for individuals with Huntington’s disease?

The life expectancy for individuals with Huntington’s disease can vary. It depends on the stage of the disease and the individual’s health and well-being. Individuals with HD have a reduced life expectancy compared to the general population. Their average life expectancy is 10-20 years after the onset of symptoms.

  • Can children inherit Huntington’s disease from their parents?

Yes, Huntington’s disease is an inherited disorder. A mutation in the huntingtin gene causes it. Children of individuals with HD have a 50% chance of inheriting the mutation.

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Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
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22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been prepared.read more
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Jean Cooper
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I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well together.read more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your business.read more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
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Steve Nabavi
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It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any cookies.read more
Katie Lewis
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16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
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I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going there.read more
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21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my treatment.read more
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17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to finish.read more
robert Parker
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16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 stars.read more
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MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his staff.read more
Roger Arguello
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03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best treatment.read more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my doctor.read more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
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00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding solutions.read more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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