Amyloidosis is a rare and potentially fatal disease that happens when substances called amyloid proteins build up in your organs. Amyloid proteins are abnormal proteins that are usually produced by cells in your bone marrow. They can be deposited in any tissue or organ in your body.
Amyloidosis can affect different organs in different people. There are many different types of amyloidosis. They are distinguished by the type of protein fibrils (small fibers) that are deposited in your tissues and organs. These include:
- Primary amyloidosis – This form occurs independently of other disease (no specific disease or cause is related to the abnormal protein deposits). Primary amyloidosis usually affects your tongue, thyroid gland, kidneys, liver, intestines, spleen, heart, lung and skin. This type of amyloidosis is rare.
- Secondary amyloidosis – This is the most common form of amyloidosis. It usually occurs with another long-term illness like tuberculosis, multiple myeloma, rheumatoid arthritis, osteomyelitis or Crohn’s disease. Secondary amyloidosis usually affects your spleen, liver, kidneys and sometimes your vascular system and lymph nodes.
- Familial (inherited) amyloidosis – This type is present in a series of genetically transmitted diseases that typically affect your skin, kidney, heart and other areas of your body.
- Senile amyloidosis – This form develops secondary to old age. It can affect your pancreas, heart and sometimes your brain.
In addition to these systemic forms of amyloidosis listed above, the amyloid deposits can also be localized. Localized amyloidosis can be associated with normal aging, Alzheimer’s disease, endocrine tumors and adult onset diabetes.
There are many different signs and symptoms that you may experience with amyloidosis. These include:
- Shortness of breath
- Weight loss
- Severe fatigue
- Difficulty swallowing
- Numbness or tingling in your hands and feet
- Skin changes
- An enlarged tongue (macroglossia)
- An irregular heartbeat
- Swelling of your legs and ankles
- Weak hand grip
- Clay-colored stools
- Decrease in urine output
- Joint pain
- Changing voice or hoarseness.
Amyloidosis may cause serious complications. Some of these are kidney damage, heart damage and nervous system damage.
Amyloidosis and the complications it can cause may be the reason that you are unable to work. It may be the cause of your disability.
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