The goal of treatment is to reduce the amount of copper in the tissues. This is done by a procedure called chelation -- certain medications can bind to copper and help remove it through the kidneys or gut. Treatment must be lifelong.
The following medications may be used:
- Penicillamine (Cuprimine, Depen) binds to copper and leads to increased release of copper in the urine.
- Trientine (Syprine) binds (chelates) the copper and increases its release through the urine.
- Zinc acetate (Galzin) blocks copper from being absorbed in the intestinal tract.
Vitamin E supplements may also be used.
Sometimes, medications that chelate copper (especially penicillamine) can affect the function of the brain and nervous system (neurological function). Other medications under investigation may bind copper without affecting neurological function.
A low-copper diet may also be recommended. Foods to avoid include:
- Dried fruit
You may want to drink distilled water because most tap water flows through copper pipes. Avoid using copper cooking utensils.
Symptoms may be treated 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.