Wilson's disease (inherited copper toxicosis)
This condition is characterised by an inability to metabolise copper (a trace element), which results in the accumulation of copper in the brain, liver, kidneys and eyes. This results in organ damage and neurological and behavioural changes. If it is untreated, it can lead to brain damage, liver cirrhosis, hepatitis and death. Individuals are usually born with the disease, although complications do not arise until the age of six. Diagnosis is usually based on a medical history of the family, urine test and blood tests.
Symptoms: vomiting blood, difficulty speak, swallowing and walking, jaundice, loss of co-ordination, loss of appetite, fatigue, intellectual impairment, personality changes, muscle tremors, fluid accumulation and unexplained weight loss. The first sign is a pigmented ring in the outer margin of the cornea.
Who to consult: Dietician, GP, herbalist, homoeopath, hepatologist, naturopath, neurologist, pharmacist, psychologist, psychiatrist, speech therapist.