Huntington's disease is an autosomal dominant disorder, meaning that only one copy of the defective gene that causes the disease is needed to develop the disorder, as noted by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. A child inherits one copy of every gene from each parent, meaning a child with a parent who has Huntington's disease has a 50 percent chance of inheriting the disease as well.
There are notable symptoms that suggest a person has Huntington's disease. The earlier the disease begins to form, the more quickly the effects of the disease are experienced. Noticeable behavioral changes, such as depression, mood swings and apathy, can be some of the first side effects of the disorder.
Other cognitive issues, such as memory problems and lapses in judgment, can be noted as well in Huntington's disease. These cognitive symptoms can get worse as the disease progresses. Uncontrolled movements and difficulties in fine motor skills can be a sign of chorea, which is marked by twisting, twitching and other constant, uncontrollable movements. As the disease progresses, acts of speaking, eating and walking continue to decline.
People can be tested to assess their risk factors, especially if they know that the Huntington's disease gene has been inherited. Treatments involve a multifaceted range of methods, including medicines to tackle the effects of chorea, as well as therapists to address the mental and cognitive issues that arise with the disorder.