Amyloidosis is a rare but serious illness. When this condition occurs, an abnormal protein, called amyloid, builds up in the body, which can cause damage and potentially lead to organ failure. While there is no definitive cause, there are certain factors that have been linked to the disease. Fortunately, you can learn everything you need to know about amyloidosis with a search online, which may help you find out if you or a loved one is at risk.
What Is Amyloidosis?
Amyloidosis is the build-up of abnormal proteins called amyloid. These dangerous proteins can attach and deposit into organs, tissues, nerves, and other parts of the body. When this happens, it can damage bodily functions and lead to serious health problems.
The most common types of amyloidosis are:
- AL (Primary) Amyloidosis
- AA (Secondary) Amyloidosis
- Familial ATTR Amyloidosis
- Wild-Type (Senile) ATTR Amyloidosis
The heart, kidneys, liver, intestines, and skin are some major organs that can be affected by amyloidosis. If the protein is collected throughout the body, this is called systemic or body-wide amyloidosis. Amyloidosis that appears in one specific part of the body is labeled localized.
An amyloidosis diagnosis is often delayed because patients might not show symptoms in the early stages. As the condition worsens, symptoms will vary depending on which part of the body amyloid proteins are building up. That said, here are some warning signs to watch out for:
- Swelling of ankles and legs
- Severe fatigue and weakness
- Shortness of breath
- Numbness, tingling, or pain in hands or feet
- Diarrhea (possibly with blood) or constipation
- Unintentional weight loss
- Enlarged tongue or difficulty swallowing
- Skin changes, such as bruising around the eyes
- Irregular heartbeat
Since diagnosis can be delayed or potentially never even discovered, this makes it difficult for doctors to know exactly how many people have it. That’s why recognizing the signs and seeking medical treatment sooner is crucial in improving a patient’s condition.
One possible risk factor is age. The risk increases as you get older, with the majority of people being diagnosed over the age of 40. It’s more common in men than women and can sometimes run in the family due to genetic mutations.
Around 12 to 15 percent of people diagnosed with multiple myeloma also develop AL amyloidosis, meaning that sometimes it can be linked to other diseases. While these patterns have helped researchers understand more about this disease, it’s still possible for people to have amyloidosis without inhabiting the risk factors.
Monitor your health for symptoms and see your doctor to find out why you’re experiencing them. The sooner you’re diagnosed, the sooner you can be treated and get a head start on combating the disease.
Treatment for amyloidosis will ultimately depend on which parts of the body are being affected. When the disease takes a toll on different organs, a patient will need a multidisciplinary team. This team might include a hematologist, cardiologist, gastroenterologist, neurologist, and others relevant to the patient.
A course of action will be determined based on the type of amyloidosis, side effects, any underlying diseases, and the patient’s overall health. There is no definitive cure, so treatments aim to limit the production of amyloid proteins and help patients manage symptoms.
Researching your options and consulting your medical team is the best way to find the right treatment approach. The three main forms of treatment are:
- Chemotherapy: This involves the use of drugs to destroy abnormal cells and stop them from growing. It could be given through an intravenous (IV) tube or with a pill.
- Targeted Therapy: This treatment blocks the growth of abnormal cells and limits damage to healthy ones, targeted therapy may help the organs affected by amyloidosis to work better.
- Surgery: This might become an option if a patient requires an organ transplant. If a large amount of amyloid proteins have been deposited in organs such as the kidney or heart, a transplant might be a necessary course of treatment.
Palliative or supportive care might also be recommended to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life while living with the disease.
Search Online to Learn More About Amyloidosis Today
The outlook for patients diagnosed with amyloidosis will depend on their unique condition. Some may be able to live a life with manageable symptoms, while others could have a more severe case. The good news is life expectancy for patients has increased over the decades from only a few months to more than 10 years after diagnosis.
Learn more about amyloidosis by searching online. And remember, if you’re experiencing any symptoms related to the disease, see your doctor.