Symptoms of Wilson Disease

Wilson disease causes copper buildup at birth. It can take years or even decades for symptoms to appear. Symptoms can start at any age but in most cases they start between ages 5 and 35.

Wilson disease may lead to damage in the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) and liver.

Symptoms of Wilson disease vary depending on the organs affected. The symptoms may look like those of other health problems. See your primary care physician if you have any, or several, of these symptoms.

Liver symptoms

  • Abdominal pain or distention
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Yellowish skin or whites of eyes (jaundice)
  • Easy bruising
  • Swollen liver and spleen

Neurological symptoms

Copper buildup in the central nervous system can cause symptoms such as:

  • Behavioral changes
  • Stiff muscles
  • Uncontrollable tremors, shakes or movements
  • Slow or repeated movements
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Slurred speech
  • Poor coordination
  • Drooling
  • Decreased fine motor abilities

Mental health symptoms

Copper buildup in the central nervous system can also cause psychological changes such as:

  • Feeling stressed and anxious
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts

Other symptoms

Wilson disease can also cause symptoms such as:

  • Osteoporosis (weak, fragile bone)
  • Arthritis (pain and swelling in joint)
  • Anemia (not enough healthy red blood cells)
  • Platelets or white blood cells levels lower than normal
  • Kayser-Fleischer rings (copper buildup that causes brown rings around the irises of the eyes)

Related Resources


Related Links

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