Know the Signs of Amyloidosis

There are many rare diseases. Since they don’t occur often, they can be misdiagnosed or dismissed quite simply.  Getting educated on the symptoms of a rare disease can assist in figuring out that it’s occurring.

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Amyloidosis is one such rare disease. It can’t be cured. This disease causes an unnatural buildup of amyloid protein in organs around the body.

There are many additional complications and risk factors when it comes to amyloidosis. A transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy can cause heart failure. The Kidneys can be damaged and lose their ability to filter blood. A person’s nervous system can potentially break down and people lose appropriate bowel function. Quite simply, amyloidosis can be a serious problem to the health of any person. 

Types of Amyloidosis

There are multiple different types of amyloidosis. Each of them are caused by a buildup of amyloid proteins in parts of the body. This protein comes from the bone marrow, are carried by the blood and can end up in any organ or tissue throughout the body. Types of amyloidosis include: 

  • Dialysis-Related - This type of amyloidosis occurs in people suffering from amyloidosis. The proteins end up in joints and tendons and it can be very painful. 
  • AL Amyloidosis - The most common type is AL. This affects people in their heart, skin, nerves, liver and kidneys. 
  • AA Amyloidosis - This type will usually place the proteins in the kidneys, liver, heart and digestive tract. This tends to occur when there are chronic inflammation diseases present. 
  • Hereditary Amyloidosis - This form is inherited from other family members and lineage. It tends to affect people in their liver, heart, kidneys and nerves. Many of the factors of this form are based upon the gene abnormalities within the body that cause the disease in the first place. 

Symptoms of Amyloidosis

Symptoms can be tricky to spot during the early stages of amyloidosis. They tend to be very minor, or attributed to other conditions. Symptoms can also vary person to person, since different parts of the body can be affected. Some of the common symptoms include: 

  • Swelling - This occurs most commonly in the ankles and legs. 
  • Fatigue - People may also feel very weak. 
  • Weight Loss - This is weight loss that is unintentional and occurs without appropriate attempts to do so. 
  • Diarrhea - Blood in the stool is common, as is constipation as a contradiction to diarrhea. 
  • Enlarged Tongue - This can make speech a bit more difficult and eating/chewing uncomfortable. 
  • Skin Alterations - Skin can change in multiple different ways. Sometimes it thickens. It can bruise easily as well. 
  • Purpura - These are purple patches which can be on either side or surround the eyes. 
  • Trouble Swallowing - This symptom often goes together with the enlarged tongue. 

Treating Amyloidosis

Unfortunately at this time, there’s no cure for people who get amyloidosis. The type of treatment that is received will depend on the type of amyloidosis that people get. Dialysis related amyloidosis means treatment for the kidneys. Either the method of dialysis has to change or a kidney transplant will have to occur. AL often gets chemotherapy medication. The idea is to stop the cells that are producing the excess amyloid. AA amyloidosis requires treatment of inflammation and disease that is causing the amyloidosis.Finally, hereditary amyloidosis often requires a liver transplant, since that’s where the proteins originate.

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