Copper is necessary for the development of healthy nerves, bones, collagen, and the skin pigment melanin. It is absorbed from the food we eat and the excess copper is excreted through a substance produced in the liver.
Wilson’s disease is a medical condition that affects the liver. In normal condition, the liver is able to remove excess copper from the body and will release it into bile. Bile is produced by the liver that carries toxins and wastes out of the body. In Wilson’s disease, the liver is not able to filter copper correctly. This will result in a copper build up in the liver, brain, eyes and other organs. If left untreated the copper build up will eventually cause life-threatening organ damage.
Wilson’s disease is an inherited autosomal recessive mutation or change in the ATP7B gene. In order for a child to have the disease, he or she has to receive the defective gene from both parents.
Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms will depend on what organ is affected by the copper build up. These symptoms include:
- Lack of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Jaundice or yellowish skin discoloration
- Kayser-Fleischer rings or golden-brown eye discoloration
- Edema on the lower limbs
- Speech problems, inability to swallow or problems with coordination
- Muscle stiffness
If left untreated Wilson’s disease can lead to many complications, including cirrhosis, liver failure, kidney problems, persistent neurological problems and blood problems. All of these conditions are fatal. However, if the disease is detected early, the chance of successful treatment is increased.
If you think you are suffering from Wilson’s Disease you should seek medical assistance. You may also be entitled to Social Security Disability Benefits. The SSA considered Wilson’s Disease as a medical condition that would make you eligible for SSDI and SSI. Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a “Listing of Medical Impairments” (known as the blue book) that automatically qualify you for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).