What Can Be Done for People Suffering from Amyloidosis
Amyloidosis is a rare disease. With this disease, amyloid builds up in the organs of the body. This is a protein that is produced by the bone marrow and can end up in any tissue or organ in the body. This buildup impairs the normal operation of the body and can result in many symptoms and complications. There are several types of amyloidosis that a person can experience.
While there’s no cure, there are treatments that can help people with amyloidosis to help manage amyloidosis and calm the production of amyloid proteins. There are several different types of amyloidosis and the causes are slightly different for each, aside from the amyloid protein buildup being the primary cause.
Causes and Types of Amyloidosis
As mentioned earlier, the cause of amyloidosis is the excess buildup of the amyloid protein. This is produced in the bone marrow and deposited in the tissues and organs throughout the body. The types of Amyloidosis with their causes are:
- AL Amyloidosis - This version is most common and happens when abnormal versions of amyloids are produced by the bone marrow. It can affect many areas including the heart, skin, nerves, liver and kidneys.
- AA Amyloidosis - This used to be called secondary amyloidosis. It’s caused by chronic infections and inflammatory diseases like arthritis. It most commonly affects the kidneys, but can also affect the heart or liver.
- Hereditary Amyloidosis - This version of amyloidosis is passed on through family history. It commonly affects a person’s nerves, kidney, heart and liver.
- Dialysis Related Amyloidosis - Dialysis can cause this version of amyloidosis. The proteins are most commonly deposited in the tendons and joints of the body. It causes people to feel pain and stiff.
It is possible for anyone to get amyloidosis. However, there are certain things which make it far more likely for people to get it. Typically people get amyloidosis between the ages of 60 and 70. In addition, men are more likely to get it, as they get over ⅔ of cases. People who have inflammatory diseases, or chronic repetitive infections may get amyloidosis. Finally, people who are on dialysis often are at risk. This risk is lessened with the most modern dialysis methodology.
Family history can play a role. Direct family history plays a role. People who are of African descent seem to be more likely to carry the gene mutation that can cause amyloidosis that affects the heart.
Signs and Symptoms
Amyloidosis doesn't produce a lot of signs and symptoms when it’s still in the early stage. The symptoms that people experience will depend on which organ is receiving the excess amyloid buildup. Some symptoms to look out for include:
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling in the Legs and Ankles
- Significant Unexpected Weight Loss
- Severe Weakness and Fatigue
- Feeling Numb or Tingling in the Hands and Feet
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome/Pain in the Wrists
- Constipation or Diarrhea (Potentially with Blood)
- Swollen Enlarged Tongue
- Trouble Swallowing
- Irregular Heartbeats
- Skin Changes (Bruising, Purplish Patches, Thickening Skin)
Treatment and Products Used
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for amyloidosis. Treatment’s change depending on the type people have. People with AL Amyloidosis often take chemotherapy medications, or get a blood stem cell transplant. AA Amyloidosis tries to treat whichever of the underlying causes that are to be dealt with. Hereditary versions might require a liver transplant. For those dealing with dialysis caused amyloidosis, a kidney transplant or changing dialysis methods can work.
When it comes to purchasing products to support treatment, the goal is typically to manage signs and symptoms. Pain medication is a common option to help keep the painful swelling and other pain causing symptoms under control. People may take medicine designed to help with fluid retention and avoid high salt foods. People with irregular heartbeats can take medications designed to regulate that. Sometimes blood thinning medication is used as well. All options are designed and planned by a doctor since every person with amyloidosis faces it slightly differently.
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