Wilson Disease

Also called: Copper storage disease, Hepatolenticular degeneration

Wilson disease is a rare inherited disorder that prevents your body from getting rid of extra copper. You need a small amount of copper from food to stay healthy. Too much copper is poisonous.

Normally, your liver releases extra copper into bile, a digestive fluid. With Wilson disease, the copper builds up in your liver, and it releases the copper directly into your bloodstream. This can cause damage to your brain, kidneys, and eyes.

Wilson disease is present at birth, but symptoms usually start between ages 5 and 35. It first attacks the liver, the central nervous system or both. The most characteristic sign is a rusty brown ring around the cornea of the eye. A physical exam and laboratory tests can diagnose it.

Treatment is with drugs to remove the extra copper from your body. You need to take medicine and follow a low-copper diet for the rest of your life. Don't eat shellfish or liver, as these foods may contain high levels of copper. At the beginning of treatment, you'll also need to avoid chocolate, mushrooms, and nuts. Have your drinking water checked for copper content and don't take multivitamins that contain copper.

With early detection and proper treatment, you can enjoy good health.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Symptoms of Wilson Disease

The following features are indicative of Wilson Disease:
  • fatigue
  • abdominal pain
  • lack of appetite
  • jaundice
  • tendency to bruise easily
  • fluid buildup in the legs or abdomen
  • problems with speech, swallowing or physical coordination
  • uncontrolled movements
It is possible that Wilson Disease shows no physical symptoms and still is present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Wilson Disease

The following are the most common causes of Wilson Disease:
  • genetic mutation

Risk Factors for Wilson Disease

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Wilson Disease:
  • family history

Prevention of Wilson Disease

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Wilson Disease. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • genetic counseling

Occurrence of Wilson Disease

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Wilson Disease cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Not common between 50K - 500K cases

Common Age Group

Wilson Disease can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Wilson Disease can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Wilson Disease

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Wilson Disease:
  • Blood and urine tests: To monitor your liver function and check the copper levels in your blood
  • Eye exam: To evaluate golden-brown discoloration in your eyes
  • Liver biopsy: To test for excess copper
  • Genetic testing: To detect the genetic mutations that cause Wilson's disease

Doctor for Diagnosis of Wilson Disease

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Wilson Disease:
  • General practitioner
  • Hepatologist

Complications of Wilson Disease if untreated

Yes, Wilson Disease causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Wilson Disease is left untreated:
  • cirrhosis
  • liver failure
  • persistent neurological difficulty
  • kidney problems
  • psychological problems

Procedures for Treatment of Wilson Disease

The following procedures are used to treat Wilson Disease:
  • Surgery: To eliminate the diseased liver and replace it with a healthy liver

Self-care for Wilson Disease

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Wilson Disease:
  • Limit the amount of copper in your diet: Protects you from developing Wilson disease
  • Avoid multivitamins that contain copper: Helpful in preventing Wilson disease

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Wilson Disease

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Wilson Disease:
  • Physical therapy: Helps in managing the symptoms of Wilson disease

Patient Support for Treatment of Wilson Disease

The following actions may help Wilson Disease patients:
  • Join support groups: Helps in coping with the disease

Time for Treatment of Wilson Disease

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Wilson Disease to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • More than 1 year

Related Topics

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Wilson Disease.

Related Topics

Wilson Disease