The build-up of amyloid, a protein in the bone marrow, can be deposited in any tissue or organs in the body. This affects their basic functions and is called amyloidosis. A rare disorder, amyloidosis can cause serious health issues and lead to organ failure. The causes and types of amyloidosis are closely linked with other conditions. Moreover, it can affect anyone, but family history, age, kidney dialysis, and chronic diseases play a huge role.
It is difficult to diagnose amyloidosis as the symptoms are similar to other diseases. Tests to confirm a diagnosis might include biopsy, MRI, blood and urine tests, and endoscopy. Maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle, consuming healthy foods, and exercising can help prevent the symptoms of amyloidosis. Although there is no cure for amyloidosis, it can be prevented from progressing.
1. Symptoms of amyloidosis can range from mild to severe and include:
- An irregular heartbeat
- Diarrhea or constipation sometimes with blood
- Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
- Shortness of breath
- Weight issues
- An enlarged tongue
- Fatigue and weakness
2. Causes, treatments, and types of amyloidosis
AL amyloidosis, also known as primary amyloidosis or immunoglobulin light-chain amyloidosis, is usually linked with multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer. This condition affects the liver, kidneys, intestine, and heart. AL amyloidosis is caused when the bone marrow produces abnormal antibodies that cannot be broken down. It instead gets deposited in the tissues and interferes with the organ’s functions. Chemotherapy with stem cell transplantation can help treat this type of amyloidosis.
Autoimmune(AA) amyloidosis or secondary amyloidosis is usually accompanied by chronic infections or inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease. It usually affects the kidneys, liver, heart, and digestive system.
Hereditary amyloidosis or familial amyloidosis is caused due to gene abnormalities at the time of birth. This amyloidosis affects the nerves, heart, and liver. It can, however, be treated by a liver transplant.
In dialysis-related amyloidosis, beta-2 macroglobulin builds up in the tissues. It usually occurs due to kidney failure and causes pain, stiffness, and fluid in the joints. Bone fractures due to bone cysts are suspected due to this condition. It can also affect the heart and digestive tract and can cause a tear in the tendons and ligaments. Medication, surgery, or kidney transplantation are some ways to treat this condition.
Age-related (senile) systematic amyloidosis usually affects older men and is caused due to transthyretin (TTR) amyloid deposits in the heart. It can also cause heart failure.
Organ-specific amyloidosis occurs when amyloids deposit in a single organ. This is known as organ-specific amyloidosis.