October 23, 2009

Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment for Wilsons Disease

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

Wilson’s disease is a genetic disorder and occurs on account of an anomaly in Wilson’s disease protein (ATP7B) gene. The ailment is rare as the abnormal gene is present in a recessive state and as such, occurs in one out of hundred individuals carrying the abnormal gene.

Wilson Disease Symptoms

The disease leads to an accumulation of copper in certain body tissues which may have grave consequences. Some of the symptoms of Wilson’s disease are as follows:

  • Swelling of the liver or spleen on account of accumulation of copper in the organs.
  • A tendency to bruise easily, that is, increases susceptibility to injuries.
  • Water retention or edema in the feet and/or abdomen due to increased fluid concentration in these parts of the body.
  • Jaundice or yellowing of skin and whites of the eyes.
  • Nausea, fatigue, and dizziness.
  • Anemia or lack of hemoglobin content in the blood.
  • Weakening of the lymphatic system of the body on account of lowering of white blood cell and platelets count in the lymph.
  • Reduced pace of blood clotting.
  • Premature arthritis and osteoporosis, which is on account of the weakening of the muscular system of the body.
  • Excretion of higher levels of amino acids, uric acids, and carbohydrates. This may lead to weakness as some of the essential proteins and carbohydrates may be excreted with urine.
  • The accumulation of copper in the central nervous system may lead to certain neurological problems like difficulty in speech and swallowing, muscle stiffness, tremors or uncontrolled movements, and certain behavioral changes.

As the disease is a genetic disorder, it must be treated medically. But the disease or its symptoms can be alleviated to a certain extent by eating a balanced and controlled diet. The specifics of a diet to alleviate Wilson’s disease are as follows:

  • First of all, the patient must not consume foods that are rich in copper. As such, the patient must not eat foods like mushroom, shellfish, organ meat like liver and kidney, nuts, chocolates, potatoes, cocoa, and string beans.
  • Secondly, the afflicted individual must enhance the intake of zinc in their diet. This is because zinc restricts the absorption of copper by the digestive tract. The foods rich in zinc are peanuts, pumpkin seeds, avocados, sunflower seeds, lentils, oatmeal, kidney beans, and dairy products like milk, butter, and cheese.
  • The affected individual must include foods rich in proteins and carbohydrates to make up for the loss of these nutrients in excretion.

The patient must consult a doctor as it is a genetic disease and cannot be controlled by only modifying ones dietary patterns.