You may need this test if you have a family history of Wilson disease. You have to inherit a gene from both parents in order to have the disease, so it's possible to have this condition even without a known family history. Symptoms usually begin between ages 5 and 35. But they can appear earlier or later in life. You may also have this test if you have nerve problems and liver-related problems that look a lot like symptoms of hepatitis.
You may want to drink distilled water because most tap water flows through copper pipes. Avoid using copper cooking utensils. Symptoms may be managed with exercise or physical therapy. People who are confused or unable to care for themselves may need special protective measures. A liver transplant may be considered in cases where the liver is severely damaged by the disease.
The goal of treatment is to reduce the amount of copper in the tissues. This is done by a procedure called chelation. Certain medicines are given that bind to copper and help remove it through the kidneys or gut. Treatment must be lifelong.
The following medicines may be used:
Penicillamine (such as Cuprimine, Depen) binds to copper and leads to increased release of copper in the urine.
Trientine (such as Syprine) binds (chelates) the copper and increases its release through the urine.
Zinc acetate (such as Galzin) blocks copper from being absorbed in the intestinal tract.
Vitamin E supplements may also be used.
Sometimes, medicines that chelate copper (such as penicillamine) can affect the function of the brain and nervous system (neurological function). Other medicines under investigation may bind copper without affecting neurological function.