Learn More About Amyloidosis Basics

Jun 08, 2019

When people hear protein, they usually think steaks and shakes. However, thought seems to be lost as soon as the proteins are within the body. When amyloid proteins build up in a person’s organs or their tissues, it can change their shape and their usage. Suddenly, the organs and tissues aren’t functioning correctly. This is known as amyloidosis and can be an incredibly serious condition.

There are multiple types of amyloidosis. Some are not that severe, while others can be dangerous and lead to organ failure. There are multiple types, but some of the most common are DRA (Dialysis-related amyloidosis), AA amyloidosis, AL amyloidosis and Hereditary amyloidosis. Getting educated on this condition can allow for early diagnosis and treatment to ensure it’s dealt with as thoroughly as possible.

Causes of Amyloidosis

The causes of Amyloidosis tends to vary depending on the type. AL is the most common and doesn’t have a cause, but the bone marrow makes antibodies which aren’t broken down properly. This tends to cause the most damage to internal organs like the liver, kidneys and heart. It can also be a factor in multiple myeloma. AA amyloidosis on the other hand is caused due to chronic or inflammatory infections. This can be things like Crohn’s disease or rheumatoid arthritis. It’s usually found affecting a person’s digestive tract, heart or their liver. Other types of of amyloidosis are caused when people are on long term dialysis, have genetic defects or quite simply grow older. Age is the main cause in age-related systemic amyloidosis. It mostly affects elderly gentlemen.

Symptoms of Amyloidosis

For something that can be so serious, the symptoms of amyloidosis can be a tricky thing to deal with. Many are very subtle. Some are common issues which can be the symptoms of many other conditions. Only a doctor can make a proper diagnosis on amyloidosis. Some of the symptoms they will be looking for include:

  • Joint Pain
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Skin Color Changes
  • Anemia (Low Red Blood Cells)
  • Heavy Fatigue
  • Feeling Full Despite Lack of Food
  • Numbness in the Feet
  • A Swollen Tongue
  • Severe Weakness
  • Loss of Grip Strength
  • Sudden Weight Loss

People with amyloidosis may only show a few symptoms from this list, so again it’s very important to see a doctor if experiencing any of the symptoms. Some of the rare types of amyloidosis like gastrointestinal amyloidosis also have some different symptoms. These may include stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and a loss of appetite.

Treatment of Amyloidosis

Unfortunately, there is no cure once someone has been diagnosed with amyloidosis. Treatment is designed to try to slow or stop the development of these amyloid proteins first. The second goal is to manage symptoms that are manifesting themselves. Treatment options are often quite severe. People may require kidney transplants, liver transplants or have to undergo chemotherapy. Treating the symptoms can be much easier. Medicines can help to balance fluid levels and either remove excess water or add fluids. The swelling can be relieved with some medication or topical treatment like compression socks. Changing a diet can play a big roll in cases where the amyloidosis is affecting the gastrointestinal tract.

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