Wilson disease is a rare genetic disorder found in children in which large amounts of copper present in the liver and brain. Wilson's disease causes liver damage, which can be slowly progressive or acute and very severe. It can also cause brain and nervous system damage, which can lead to psychiatric and neuromuscular symptoms. Wilson's disease can be fatal, but is often very responsive to medical treatment, especially if it is diagnosed before serious illness develops.
Copper is a trace mineral that our bodies need in small amounts. Most people get a lot more copper from food than they need. However, most people are also able to get rid of the excess copper.
People with Wilson's disease cannot excrete the excess copper because of a defective copper transporting protein. The liver of a person who has Wilson's disease does not release copper into bile as it should. As a result, copper begins to build up in the liver right after birth and eventually damages this organ. When the liver can no longer hold the excess copper, the mineral goes into the bloodstream. It travels to other organs and may damage the:
- Red blood cells
- Central nervous system
Symptoms of Wilson Diesase
The signs and symptoms of Wilson’s disease vary widely, depending on which organ is affected. They can be mistaken for other diseases or conditions.
The following symptoms may indicate copper accumulation in the liver:
- feeling tired
- weight loss
- loss of appetite
- jaundice, or yellowing of the skin
- edema, or the swelling of legs and abdomen
- pain or bloating in the abdomen
- spider angiomas, or visible branch-like blood vessels on the skin
- muscle cramps
Many of these symptoms, such as jaundice and edema, are the same for other conditions like liver and kidney failure. Your doctor will conduct multiple tests before confirming a diagnosis of Wilson’s disease.
Copper accumulation in the brain can cause symptoms such as:
- memory, speech, or vision impairment
- abnormal walking
- clumsiness with hands
- personality changes
- changes in mood
- problems in school
In the advanced stages, these symptoms may include muscle spasms, seizures, and muscle pain during movement.
Kayser-Fleischer rings and sunflower cataract
Your doctor will also check for Kayser-Fleischer (K-F) rings and sunflower cataract in the eyes. K-F rings are abnormal golden-brown discolorations in the eyes that are caused by deposits of excess copper. K-F rings show up in about 97 percent of people with Wilson’s disease.
Sunflower cataracts show up in 1 out of 5 people with Wilson’s disease. This is a distinctive multicolored center with spokes that radiate outward.
The buildup of copper in other organs can cause:
- bluish discoloration in the nails
- kidney stones
- premature osteoporosis, or lack of bone density
- menstrual irregularities
- low blood pressure
Causes of Wilson Disease
Wilson's disease is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait, which means that to develop the disease you must inherit one copy of the defective gene from each parent. If you receive only one abnormal gene, you won't become ill yourself, but you're a carrier and can pass the gene to your children.
You can be at increased risk of Wilson's disease if your parents or siblings have the condition. Ask your doctor whether you should undergo genetic testing to find out if you have Wilson's disease. Diagnosing the condition as early as possible dramatically increases the chances of successful treatment.
Untreated, Wilson's disease can be fatal. Serious complications include:
- Scarring of the liver (cirrhosis). As liver cells try to make repairs to damage done by excess copper, scar tissue forms in the liver, making it more difficult for the liver to function.
- Liver failure. This can occur suddenly (acute liver failure), or it can develop slowly over years. A liver transplant might be a treatment option.
- Persistent neurological problems. Tremors, involuntary muscle movements, clumsy gait and speech difficulties usually improve with treatment for Wilson's disease. However, some people have persistent neurological difficulty despite treatment.
- Kidney problems. Wilson's disease can damage the kidneys, leading to problems such as kidney stones and an abnormal number of amino acids excreted in the urine.
- Psychological problems. These might include personality changes, depression, irritability, bipolar disorder or psychosis.
- Blood problems. These might include destruction of red blood cells (hemolysis) leading to anemia and jaundice.
- Avoid foods that are high in copper:meat gelatin, lamb; pork; pheasant quail; duck; goose; squid; salmon; organ meats including liver, heart, kidney and brain.
- Sea food: shellfish including oysters, scallops, shrimp, lobster, clams, and crab.
- soy and soy substitutes, nuts and seeds, beans, legumes; whole grain, wheat germ, almonds, broccoli, garlic; bran breads and cereals; fresh sweet potatoes and sea plants.
- Dried beans including soy beans, lima beans, baked beans, garbanzo beans, pinto beans; dried peas; lentils; millet; barley.
- Vegetable juice, cocktail, mushrooms.
- Nectarine, commercially dried fruits including raisins, dates, prunes, avocado.
- Chocolate and some kind of beers are rich in copper.
- The dietary intake of copper should be less than 1.0 mg per day.
- Avoid cooking in copper vessels.
- Avoid drinking alcohol. It can be harmful to the liver, and the liver may already be damaged from Wilson's disease.
- Increase intake of vitamin B6: Patients under treatment of D- penicillamine, develops deficiency of vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine).
- Meats, live, fish, eggs and milk, beans, nuts, legumes and whole grains, sunflower seeds, eggs, walnuts and herring.
- Increase intake of zinc, it reduces copper levels:
- Plant foods are low in zinc, whole wheat, meat, poultry and milk, sea food.
HOMOEOPATHIC TREATMENT OF WILSON DISEASE
Alfalfa, Lobelia, Echinacea, Valeriana ,e.t.c