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Treatments for Wilson Disease
How Is Wilson Disease Treated?
There is no cure for Wilson disease. Lifelong treatment is necessary and could include:
- Taking copper-chelating medications, which help your body’s organs and tissues get rid of excess copper
- Reducing the amount of copper you get through food
- Taking zinc supplements. Zinc prevents your body from absorbing copper from your diet
- Getting extra vitamin B6
- Treating any damage to your liver or central nervous system (or both)
- Taking medications to treat symptoms, such as muscle problems (tremors, stiffness)
- Getting a liver transplant, if you have extensive liver damage. This procedure has about an 80 percent survival rate.
Are there complications that can occur?
Wilson disease can lead to various liver-related problems, including liver damage, hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure. You could have difficulty functioning because of neurological symptoms. Brain damage is a possibility and the disease can be fatal.
Can Wilson disease be prevented?
There is no cure for Wilson disease. However, with genetic counseling, you might be able to determine whether your current or future children are at risk of developing it. Your health care provider may recommend genetic testing, if there is a strong family or personal history of the condition. Siblings of someone with Wilson disease should be tested; so should more distant relatives who have neurological or liver symptoms that could be related to Wilson disease.
How do you manage or live with Wilson disease?
Your doctor may suggest medication to help keep copper under control. You may also need dietary changes to help reduce your copper intake, including:
- Avoiding shellfish
- Avoiding liver
- Limiting or avoiding mushrooms
- Limiting or avoiding nuts
- Limiting or avoiding chocolate
- Avoiding multivitamins that contain copper
- You should test your drinking water for copper, or find a source of water that is free of copper. It's also important to return to your doctor for regular follow-up visits and lab tests, to make sure your copper levels are under control.
- If you want to get pregnant, or are pregnant, tell your doctor. You may need to change your medication dosages, so you can have a healthy pregnancy.
- Also, talk with your doctor about other steps you can take to keep your liver healthy, such as getting vaccinated against hepatitis A and B.