Munson Health
Wilson Disease

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by Rosenblum L


It may take some time for copper to build up. At first, the liver will hold the excess copper. Eventually, the liver will not be able to hold the copper. Copper will begin to leave the liver and move to other organs like the brain or eyes. Symptoms usually begin under 40 years of age, typically at ages 6-20 years. They can be present as early as five years of age.
  • Symptoms of excess copper in the liver include:
    • Jaundice—yellowing of the skin and eyes
    • Swollen abdomen
    • Pain in the abdomen
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting blood
    • Fluid buildup in the legs
    • Fatigue
  • Symptoms of excess copper in the brain include:
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Mood swings
    • Aggressive or other inappropriate behaviors
    • Difficulty speaking and swallowing
    • Tremors
    • Rigid muscles
    • Problems with balance and walking
  • Symptoms of excess copper in the eyes include Kayser-Fleischer rings, which are rusty or brown-colored rings around the iris.
  • Symptoms may also occur due to anemia, infections, poor blood clotting, kidney damage, or bone and joint disease from the extra copper


American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases

Wilson Disease Association



Canadian Liver Foundation

Health Canada



About Wilson Disease. Wilson Disease Association website. Available at: Accessed April 26, 2013.

Brewer GJ, Askari F, et al. Treatment of Wilson disease with ammonium tetrathiomolybdate: IV. Comparison of tetrathiomolybdate and trientine in a double-blind study of treatment of the neurologic presentation of Wilson disease. Arch Neurol. 2006 Apr;63(4):521-527.

Ferenci P. Wilson disease. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2005 Aug;3(8):726-733.

Wilson disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated April 8, 2013. Accessed February 27, 2014.

Wilson Disease. National Digestive Disease Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: Updated April 30, 2012. Accessed April 26, 2013.


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