Wilson’s disease, Causes, & Symptoms?

Wilson’s disease is often referred to as progressive lenticular degeneration and hepatolenticular degeneration. It is known to be a rare genetic issue that is responsible for copper poisoning in the patient’s body. It is known to impact only about one out of 30,000 people across the world. When you are fit and healthy, your liver would be filtering out all the excess copper by releasing it via the urine. If you are suffering from Wilson’s disease, the liver would not be successful in eliminating the excess copper effectively. The excess copper would be building up in vital body organs like the liver, eyes, and even the brain.

It is of pivotal importance to go in for prompt diagnosis to arrest the progression of the disease. As per https://www.sciencedirect.com, we know that in the event of poisoning due to oral copper sulfate could be treated promptly and effectively with gastric lavage followed by potassium ferrocyanide instillation for minimizing absorption. Wilson’s disease’s treatment could prove to be effective and may include medication therapy or opt for a liver transplant. Delaying treatment could lead to brain damage, liver failure, and some other life-threatening issues.

Symptoms of Wilson’s disease

Wilson’s disease seems to be present right from birth but symptoms would not be visible until there are copper buildups in the liver, brain, or any other organ. Symptoms and signs would vary according to the organ affected by the issue. Some of the associated symptoms are: 

  • Abdominal pain, lack of appetite, and fatigue.
  • Yellowing of the white portion of the eyes and yellowing of the skin.
  • Fluid buildup in your abdomen or legs.
  • Issues with swallowing, speech, and physical coordination.
  • Muscle stiffness or uncontrolled movements.

Avoiding Copper-Rich Foods

Copper plays a pivotal role in the healthy development of bones, nerves, collagen, and even the skin pigment called melanin. Usually, copper is easily absorbed from food; however, excess copper is effectively excreted through liver bile. But in patients suffering from Wilson’s disease, copper cannot be properly eliminated so it gets accumulated probably to the extent of a life-threatening level. If diagnosed early, this seems to be a treatable issue and we have come across several people with Wilson’s disease leading normal lives.  

Patients with this disease must avoid consuming copper-rich diets such as shellfish and organ meats. However, you need to keep in mind that dietary restrictions are not enough to alleviate this issue. Drinking alcohol must be avoided since it could prove to be harmful to the liver that may have been damaged already from liver cirrhosis thanks to excessive copper accumulation. Moreover, you may need an effective treatment for existing liver damage or any damages that have been caused by the central nervous system. 

Dietary Copper Tips

Drinking water may be having copper at elevated levels. In the case, you are having copper plumbing; you must run the water for some time before using it to reduce the copper content.

Always examine the labels on supplements to see the ingredients. Check if copper is present. Ask your healthcare providers to give you a multivitamin minus copper. Remember most prenatal vitamins could be high in copper. You must avoid them. Avoid using copper cooking utensils.


Prompt treatment is necessary to curb and cure Wilson’s disease. Be careful about what you are eating. Do not consume copper-rich food.