Amyloidosis-The Uncommon Disease

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Amyloidosis is a disease that is uncommon and can be fatal. This happens when Amyloid proteins accumulate in the tissues and organs of the body. The protein isn’t normal and is produced by cells in the bone marrow.

There are 4 types of Amyloidosis with the first one being Primary Amyloidosis. Primary Amyloidosis is the most common type of the disease and for the most part, it isn’t associated with other diseases. But, on some occasions, it may be associated to myeloma which is a type of bone marrow cancer. This kind of Amyloidosis mostly affects the intestines, tongue, heart, kidneys, and nerves.

Even though researches don’t know what causes Primary Amyloidosis, they have found that it starts in the bone marrow. The bone marrow makes antibodies, which help fight against disease and infection. Once the antibodies get rid of the infection or disease, the body breaks them down and reuses them. When the antibodies cannot be broken down, Amyloidosis takes place which then leads to the building up of the antibodies in the blood stream. In the end the antibodies leave the bloodstream and can go into the tissues as Amyloid and cause damage.

The second type of Amyloidosis is Secondary Amyloidosis: Secondary Amyloidosis primarily affects the spleen, lymph nodes, kidneys, and liver, but other organs can also be involved. This type happens in connection with frequent communicable or inflammatory diseases, like, rheumatoid arthritis, tuberculosis or osteomyelitis, which is a bone infection. Treating of the main disease may help stop this form of Amyloidosis.

The third type of Amyloidosis is inherited: This form has an effect on the kidneys, nerves, and heart.

The fourth and final type of Amyloidosis is Hemodialysis. Signs of this kind of Amyloidosis include bone lesions and chronic arthritis. Hemodialysis happens in people who have had more than five years of kidney dialysis treatments.

Since everyone is different their symptoms may be different but the common are: bone lesions, irregular heartbeat, difficulty swallowing, swollen legs and/or ankles, tingling in the hands and feet, enlarged tongue, chronic arthritis, nerve damage, heart damage, weakness, shortness of breath, kidney and heart damage, numbness, diarrhea, chronic fatigue, weight loss, abnormal hair loss, skin changes, and respiratory failure. If Amyloidosis isn’t treated it can result in death.

When the patient notices symptoms the best thing they can do is see their doctor so that tests can be done and a diagnosis can be made. Amyloidosis is usually discovered after considerable organ damage has already taken place. So, repairing or stabilizing the damaged organ should be the initial treatment. The most common cause of a patient’s death is due to kidney failure.

So what are the treatment options, medications, and outcomes? According to an article published by Dr. William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR dated February 1, 2008, some treatments like chemotherapy and organ transplant may help the patient struggling with this disease. Further some medications include anti-inflammatory medication, anti-cancer medication, and Corticosteroids such as prednisone. Along with medication, the patient’s diet may need to be adjusted.

Although there isn’t a cure for Amyloidosis, the patient living with the disease can live a full life. Early diagnosis is essential and can prevent death if identified early enough. If someone is showing symptoms of this disease its imperative to seek out the help of a physician so the most precious thing is saved: your loved one.


William C. Shiel Jr., MD. FACP, FACR

Amyloidosis, Medicine.NET






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