Comprehending Amyloidosis: Its Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, And Treatment

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Do you ever get a strange tingling feeling in your fingers or hands? Or Do you have frequent chest pains that are extremely painful? You might want to get yourself checked for amyloidosis. It is a rare disease with no cure and is hereditary. The most dangerous trait of this disease is that there are no early signs of the disease.

In this blog, we are going to comprehend Amyloidosis disease, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. So, if you are someone with the symptoms or know someone who has it, then this blog is for you.

Comprehending Amyloidosis

Amyloidosis is a type of rare condition where amyloid or abnormal protein accumulates in your tissues and organs. This build-up is harmful as it blocks the organ and refrains from its functioning causing imbalance in the body. The accumulated abnormal protein can be deposited in the liver, spleen, kidney, heart, nerves, and blood vessels.

Types Of Amyloidosis

It has various ways of affecting the human body. The protein can be built up in only one tissue or organ where it completely fails the functioning of the organ. This is called Localized amyloidosis. The symptoms can be seen in your lungs, skin, bladder, or stomach. 

The other approach that this disease takes is body-wide amyloidosis. Here, the amyloids can be seen deposited in numerous body tissues and organs simultaneously. The effect of this can cause heart failure and ultimately death.

Types Of Amyloidosis

Since our body consumes numerous sources and types of protein, we can expect a fair share of types for this disease. They are:

AL Amyloidosis

This is a type of amyloidosis that can decrease the immunity levels of the body. Otherwise known as immunoglobulin light chain amyloidosis is a common form of disease affecting people. The factors causing are unknown but it takes place when the bone marrow creates abnormal protein which cannot be broken down.

AL Amyloidosis stems from the plasma disorder cells where the white blood cells produce a light chain of amyloid deposits. This protein is hard to break down and then distributed to various tissues and organs for the build-up.

The build-up of amyloid deposits can be easily seen in the kidneys, skin, liver, spleen, heart, digestive system, and nerves. There is no specific time when this disease reaches its final stage as it occurs in relapses.

AA Amyloidosis

This type of amyloidosis is also called secondary amyloidosis, where the protein folds itself in various forms to block the organ. It starts with a single-fold, misfolded, and then fibroids which are stacked inside an organ. The common target of this disease is the kidney, but the symptoms can also occur in the digestive tract, heart, and liver.

The cause of this disease is because of chronic inflammation like rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis (inflammatory bowel disease), tuberculosis, or Crohn’s disease.

ATTR Amyloidosis

ATTR amyloidosis is more hereditary than a cause. A gene that runs in the family that forms Transthyretin Protein or TTR produced in the liver. This familial amyloidosis can later develop in the heart, kidneys, and nerves. 

The symptoms of ATTR are very similar to other diseases which makes it difficult to diagnose and treat. 

Dialysis Related Amyloidosis

This type of amyloidosis is common for individuals who have a history of long dialysis treatments. These amyloid deposits are made of Beta-2 Microglobulin that builds up in bones, joints, and tendons. 

Localized Amyloidosis

Here, the build-up of protein can be seen in the airway, skin, eyes, and urinary tract. They are not generated from the bone marrow plasma cells. But from localized production of immunoglobulin light chains. 

Wild Type ATTR

It’s an extended version of AATY amyloidosis which is common in males over the age of 75. The common symptom one can see is the tingling of fingers and toes. This type of amyloidosis affects the heart.

Causes

The causes of amyloidosis are either hereditary or caused by other chronic inflammation or infections. The following can also factor in the development of amyloidosis:

  • A long history of dialysis treatment
  • Bowel inflammatory diseases
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Symptoms

The symptoms are not detected at an early stage for amyloidosis as it interferes with underlying health conditions. But look out for these symptoms if you are suspicious of It:

  • Purple patches around your face or skin
  • Fatigue
  • Low blood pressure
  • Feeling constipated
  • Enlarged tongue
  • Difficulty in digestion
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath with no physical activity
  • Dizziness when you stand up from a sitting position
  • Feeling full after eating right away
  • Chest pain
  • Feeling of fainting
  • Weakness and tingling sensation in hands or feet
  • Foamy urine

Diagnosis

There are various methods to diagnose the disease of amyloidosis. The doctor will do blood tests, urine tests, a biopsy of the affected organ, and another biopsy of the bone marrow. These assessments will help determine the type and cause. Nuclear imaging, MRIs, and echocardiograms are also the means to identify the symptoms.

Treatment

After proper evaluation of your case, your doctor may prescribe medications, chemotherapy, bone marrow transplant, liver transplant, and kidney transplant to treat amyloidosis. These treatments will serve according to the type and boost your immunity. Apart from these, pain relievers, blood thinners, medications to control heart rate, and diuretics are also used to treat the symptoms.

Conclusion

If the signs of amyloidosis are neglected then it may cause heart failure, kidney malfunction, and nerve damage. All the risks point toward life-threatening factors and should be considered carefully. The life expectancy chart does not look good as an overview when it comes to it.

Since there are no drugs to prevent the occurrence of It. The best approach is to manage kidney diseases. Early detection of the disease can help you reverse the symptoms by adopting lifestyle changes and alterations in diet. Keep your heart healthy with fresh fruits and vegetables to reduce the risk of any diseases.

Read More: Reishi Mushroom: Overview, 6 Benefits of Reishi Mushroom

References

  • Sipe JD, Benson MD, Buxbaum JN, Ikeda S, Merlini G, Saraiva MJ, et al. Amyloid fibril protein nomenclature: 2010 recommendations from the nomenclature committee of the International Society of Amyloidosis. Amyloid. 2010 Sep;17(3-4):101–4. [PubMed]
  • Kyle, R. A. et al. Incidence and natural history of primary systemic amyloidosis in Olmsted County, Minnesota, 1950 through 1989. Blood 79, 1817–1822 (1992). Article 
  • Thompson CA, Kyle R, Gertz M, Heit J, Pruthi R, Pardanani A. Systemic AL amyloidosis with acquired factor X deficiency: A study of perioperative bleeding risk and treatment outcomes in 60 patients. Am J Hematol. 2010 Mar;85(3):171–3. [PMC free article]

Dr. David G Kiely is a distinguished Medical Reviewer and former General Medicine Consultant with a wealth of experience in the field. Dr. Kiely's notable career as a General Medicine Consultant highlights his significant contributions to the medical field.

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