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The signs and symptoms of HD are widespread and can vary from person to person. Generally, symptoms become more severe as the disease progresses. Some common symptoms include:
- Chorea (rapid, involuntary movements of the fingers, limbs and facial muscles). This varies in severity from mild twitching to more severe thrashing as the disease progresses
- Reduced saccadic motion of the eyes (rapid movement of the eye used to focus from one object to another)
- Loss of motor coordination and fine motor movements e.g. difficulty writing.
- Reduced short-term memory
- Concentration impairment
- Difficulty with communication e.g. slow, slurred speech; difficulty in finding words; disorganised speech and sentence construction.
- Change in personal hygiene and habits
- Unusually anxious behaviour
- Irritability and aggression
- Depression, particularly in later stages.
A number of complications can arise in late-stage HD including:
- Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) resulting in weight loss and increased risk of choking
- Increased risk of respiratory disease such as pneumonia
- Incontinence and other urinary tract problems e.g. infections
- Falls and difficulty walking requiring the use of assist devices e.g. wheelchairs.
Last Review Date: March 1, 2018