What is Wilson’s Disease?

Wilson’s disease of the liver causes the body to retain copper. The liver of a person who has Wilson’s disease does not release copper into bile as it should. Bile is a liquid produced by the liver that helps with digestion. As the intestines absorb copper from food, the copper builds up in the liver and injures liver tissue. Eventually, the damage causes the liver to release the copper directly into the bloodstream, which carries the copper throughout the body. The copper buildup leads to damage in the kidneys, brain and eyes. If not treated by liver doctor, Wilson’s disease can cause severe brain damage, liver failure and death.

Wilson’s disease is hereditary. Symptoms usually appear between the ages of 6 and 20 years, but can begin as late as age 40. The most characteristic sign is the Kayser-Fleischer ring—a rusty brown ring around the cornea of the eye that can be seen only through an eye exam. Other signs depend on whether the damage occurs in the liver, blood, central nervous system, urinary system or musculoskeletal system.

Many signs can be detected only by a doctor such as:

  • swelling of the liver and spleen
  • fluid buildup in the lining of the abdomen
  • anemia
  • low platelet and white blood cell count in the blood
  • high levels of amino acids protein, uric acid, and carbohydrates in urine -softening of the bones

Some symptoms are more obvious like jaundice (which appears as yellowing of the eyes and skin), vomiting blood, speech and language problems, tremors in the arms and hands, and rigid muscles.

Diagnosis: Wilson’s Disease

Wilson’s disease is diagnosed through tests that measure the amount of copper in the blood, urine, and liver. An eye exam would detect the Kayser-Fleischer ring.

The disease is treated with lifelong use of D-penicillamine or trientine hydrochloride, drugs that help remove copper from tissue, or zinc acetate, which stops the intestines from absorbing copper and promotes copper excretion. Patients will also need to take vitamin B6 and follow a low-copper diet, which means avoiding mushrooms, nuts, chocolate, dried fruit, liver and shellfish.

Wilson’s Disease Doctor in Los Angeles

Wilson’s disease requires lifelong treatment through the help of a knowledgeable gastroenterologist. If the disorder is detected early and treated correctly, a person with Wilson’s disease can enjoy completely normal health. If you are looking for a Wilson’s Disease Doctor in Los Angeles, seek the help of Dr. Tabib. His experience and knowledge can help you with the diagnosis and treatment of this liver disease.

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Siamak Tabib, M.D., Inc.
8631 W 3rd St Suite 1015E,
Los Angeles, CA 90048

(310) 683-4911

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