A rare disorder, Amyloidosis causes the buildup of protein molecules in certain organs. It usually occurs as a complication of another disorder, but occasionally it occurs by itself. The sites which are most prone to have these proteins deposited in them include the kidney, heart, skin, gastrointestinal tract, and nervous system. As these proteins accumulate, they interfere with the function of the involved tissues. Kidney failure, congestive heart failure, and gastrointestinal bleeding can occur.
Causes of Amyloidosis
The cause of primary amyloidosis is unknown. Secondary amyloidosis is common with patients suffering from multiple myeloma. This is a cancer involving some of the cells in the bone marrow. Certain chronic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or tuberculosis, may produce amyloidosis. The risk from of developing amyloidosis appears to increase with advancing age.
Signs and Symptoms of Amyloidosis
The symptoms depend on which organ or tissue is affected. When the heart is affected, congestive heart failure can occur. This can produce shortness of breath, swelling of the tissues, fatigue, and irregular heart beats. When the kidneys are affected, renal failure can occur. If the skin is involved, lumps under the skin develop, and bruising or bleeding in the skin is common. The gastrointestinal tract tends to produce blood in the stool. Diarrhea or abdominal pain may occur. The blood loss can lead to lightheadedness and fatigue. Involvement with the nervous system can produce numbness, weakness, hoarseness, and difficulties with the control of urine and feces. When the lungs are involved, it is difficult to breath.
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Medical Content Last Updated on 07/12/2008
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