Signs & Symptoms

Amyloidosis – symptoms and treatment options

Amyloidosis – symptoms and treatment options

Amyloidosis is a disease in which an unusual protein called amyloid accumulates in the tissues and organs, thereby disrupting their normal functions. This build-up can lead to complications and even organ failure. Organs that are at an increased risk of this disease include heart, spleen, kidneys, liver, and the nervous system and digestive tract.

Different types of proteins can contribute to the formation of amyloids that pose major health risks. In some cases, amyloidosis can even be the cause of an underlying disease. In that case, the symptoms and spread of the disease can be managed by treating the underlying disease. Aged people and patients with multiple myeloma and advanced kidney disease are at a higher risk of the disease. Let’s look at the symptoms and treatment options for the condition.

Signs and symptoms of amyloidosis often start to show once the condition has advanced, and they vary on the basis of where the protein is deposited in the body. Some common symptoms of the condition are:

  • Swelling of ankles and legs
  • Joint pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling of the tongue
  • Feeling of fullness
  • Tingling and numbness in legs and feet
  • Changes in skin color
  • Weak hand grip
  • Anemia
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Sudden weight loss

Some symptoms of the most common organ-related amyloidosis are as below:

Cardiac amyloidosis
In this condition, the disease interferes with the function of the heart, and if it reaches an advanced stage, it could even lead to heart failure. Symptoms of cardiac amyloidosis include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Swelling of feet and ankles
  • Weakness, fatigue, and nausea

Renal amyloidosis
This condition is related to the amyloid deposit in the kidney, rendering it incapable to remove toxins and excess water. The condition further leads to water retention and major health issues. A patient with renal amyloidosis may experience:

  • Swelling of feet and ankles
  • Puffiness around the eyes
  • Signs of kidney failure
  • Unusually high levels of protein in urine

Gastrointestinal amyloidosis
When amyloid deposits around the GI tract, it hinders the movement of food through the intestines. Patients with this condition may experience liver enlargement and fluid build-up. The symptoms of GI amyloidosis include:

  • Low appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Weight loss

While there is no cure for amyloidosis, there are treatments to slow down the growth of the protein and the damage it can pose to the tissues and organs. The treatment will also depend on the type of amyloidosis. Some treatment options for the condition include:

  • High-dose chemotherapy with stem transplant or chemotherapy medicines
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines
  • Therapies to slow down the production of the abnormal transthyretin (TTR) protein
  • Kidney or liver transplant may be required if the condition is in the advanced stage

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