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Amyloidosis

Risk Factors for Amyloidosis

Men get amyloidosis more often than women. Your risk for amyloidosis increases as you grow older. Amyloidosis affects 15% of patients with a form of cancer called multiple myeloma.

Amyloidosis may also occur in people with end-stage kidney disease who are on dialysis for a long time (see "Dialysis-related amyloidosis" above).  

Symptoms of Amyloidosis

Symptoms of amyloidosis are often subtle. They can also vary greatly depending on where the amyloid protein is collecting in the body. It is important to note that the symptoms described below may be due to a variety of different health problems. Only your doctor can make a diagnosis of amyloidosis.

General symptoms of amyloidosis may include:

  • Changes in skin color
  • Clay-colored stools
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling of fullness
  • Joint pain
  • Low red blood cell count (anemia)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling of the tongue
  • Tingling and numbness in legs and feet
  • Weak hand grip
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss

 

Cardiac (Heart) Amyloidosis

Amyloid deposits in the heart can make the walls of the heart muscle stiff. They can also make the heart muscle weaker and affect the electrical rhythm of the heart. This condition can cause less blood to flow to your heart. Eventually, your heart will no longer be able to pump. If amyloidosis affects your heart, you may have:

  • Shortness of breath with light activity
  • An irregular heartbeat
  • Signs of heart failure, including swelling of the feet and ankles, weakness, fatigue, and nausea, among others

 

Renal (Kidney) Amyloidosis

Your kidneys filter waste and toxins from your blood. Amyloid deposits in the kidneys make it hard for them to do this job. When your kidneys do not work properly, water and dangerous toxins build up in your body. If amyloidosis affects the kidneys, you may have:

  • Signs of kidney failure, including swelling of the feet and ankles and puffiness around the eyes.
  • High levels of protein in your urine.

 

Gastrointestinal Amyloidosis

Amyloid deposits along your gastrointestinal (GI) tract slow down the muscle contractions that help move food through your intestines. This interferes with digestion. If amyloidosis affects your GI tract, you may have:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Weight loss

Liver involvement can cause liver enlargement, fluid buildup in the body, and abnormal liver function tests.

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