Huntington's disease

Huntington's disease is a condition that stops parts of the brain working properly over time. It's passed on (inherited) from a person's parents.

It gets gradually worse over time and is usually fatal after a period of up to 20 years.


The symptoms usually start at 30 to 50 years of age, but can begin much earlier or later.

Symptoms of Huntington's disease can include:

Full-time nursing care is needed in the later stages of the condition.

Read more about the symptoms of Huntington's disease.

How it's inherited

Huntington's disease is caused by a faulty gene that results in parts of the brain becoming gradually damaged over time.

You're usually only at risk of developing it if one of your parents has or had it. Both men and women can get it.

If a parent has the Huntington's disease gene, there's a:

Very occasionally, it's possible to develop Huntington's disease without having a history of it in your family. But this is usually just because one of your parents was never diagnosed with it.

When to get medical advice

Speak to your GP for advice if:

Your GP may refer you to a specialist for tests to check for Huntington's disease.

Treatment and support

There's currently no cure for Huntington's disease or any way to stop it getting worse.

But treatment and support can help reduce some of the problems it causes, such as:

Read more about treatment and support for Huntington's disease.

Further information and advice

Living with Huntington's disease can be very distressing and frustrating for the person with the condition, as well as their loved ones and carers.

You may find The Huntington's Disease Association a useful source of information and support.

They offer:

Page last reviewed: 29 March 2021
Next review due: 29 March 2024