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The Physician's Guide To The Managment of Huntington's Disease
The Movement Disorder (CHAPTER 3)


Weight loss is a common problem in Huntington's disease. This is probably due in part to diminished food intake because of dysphagia, fatigue, and depression.
However many HD patients also require a large caloric intake to maintain their body weight. This may be simply due to the expenditure of energy through involuntary movements, but there may be other metabolic reasons not fully understood.
Two strategies can be employed to increase the caloric intake of someone with HD: increase the number of meals, or increase the calorie content of the food.
The first goal can be achieved by eating five small meals a day or by adding high calorie snacks such as milkshakes.
The caloric content of the food can be increased by measures such as adding oil to soups, drinking cream instead of skim milk, adding margarine liberally as a condiment, and focusing on easily eaten, high-calorie foods such as pasta with cream based sauce.

Consultation with a nutritionist can help in selecting the most appropriate foods and supplements to meet the patient's needs.

Regaining lost weight sometimes results in improved alertness and responsiveness, and often appears to reduce chorea as well.

Maintaining hydration is also very important, particularly in the summertime in patients who may not be able to request fluids.

 Cyproheptadine, an antihistamine, given as 4mg at bedtime, may help increase weight by stimulating appetite in some patients.