Menu:

Wilson's disease: causes, symptoms and treatment

MEANING

In the process of adopting a balanced and nutritious diet, make sure that you consume all the proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates and fats in moderation. If you go beyond the moderate diet, there are high chances you might be consuming excess copper. This excess copper is not a very healthy sign. Yes, no doubt, they are needed to repair cells.

If your copper intake is high, there are cent percent chances you might be suffering from a genetic disorder called Wilson's Syndrome. Worldwide, nearly one in thirty thousand people are suffering from this disorder. It may be prove to be fatal because copper damages every vital organ.

CAUSES

The root cause of Wilson's disease is that excess copper excretes body copper levels controlled by the liver, which fails to build up in the body. This mainly affects the liver and other vital organs including the brain.

A hereditary disease, it is caused by the mutation of the gene called ATP7B. It is located on Chromosome thirteen. For this, both of ones parents must carry a gene which each passes to the affected child. Two abnormal genes are required to have the disease.

In majority of the cases, Wilson's disease occurs due to spontaneous mutations in the gene. People with only one abnormal gene are called carriers. They do not become ill and should not be treated.

SYMPTOMS

Normally, the first symptoms occur amongst both males and females, who are in the age group of six and forty-five years. Excess copper can cause hepatitis, cirrhosis and brain damage. The damaging levels in the liver take at least five to six years. It takes 15 to 20 years to cause neurological damage. If untreated, Wilson's disease can prove to be fatal.

NEUROLOGICAL SYMPTOMS

PSYCHIATRIC SYMPTOMS

RARE SYMPTOMS

DIAGNOSIS

The following are the various ways of diagnosing Wilson's disease:

Blood analysis: For copper and the copper-binding protein caeruloplasmin
Urine tests: to measure urinary copper loss
Liver biopsy: to measure copper content
Brain scan: To detect neurological disease
Eye tests: To check for copper in the cornea of the eye
Genetic tests: To identify DNA mutations

TREATMENT

Unlike other genetic disorders, Wilson's Disease is a curable ailment. But with proper therapy and medical intervention, the disease can be controlled to some extent. Generally, the treatment is aimed at removing excess accumulated copper. It should prevent re-accumulation of copper. Therapy must be a life-long process.

The latest treatment for Wilson's disease is Zinc therapy. Zinc acts by blocking the absorption of copper in the intestinal tract. This action both depletes accumulated copper. A major advantage of zinc therapy is its lack of side effects.