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Understanding Amyloidosis: What It Is and How to Treat It

AL Amyloidosis is a rare, systemic condition which causes multi-organ failure due to abnormal proteins. In Amyloidosis plasma cells, which are responsible to create normal antibodies, become cancerous. Such cancerous plasma cells create abnormal proteins which then gets deposited to internal organs and tissue. It commonly affects, the heart, kidneys, liver and peripheral nerves. If left untreated, AL amyloidosis can lead to life-threatening conditions, including heart, liver and kidney failure.

However, if detected in time, AL Amyloidosis can be treated with successful outcomes. Thus it’s important to know about its symptoms for early detection and treatment.

Amyloidosis Symptoms

Amyloidosis can cause a wide range of symptoms, depending on the specific type and the organ affected. Some common symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling of the legs, ankles, or abdomen
  • An irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain or heart palpitations
  • Gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhoea or constipation
  • Weight loss
  • An enlarged tongue
  • Bruising easily
  • Skin that appears thin and translucent

 

It's important to note that some people with amyloidosis may not experience any symptoms, or may only have mild symptoms, while others may have severe symptoms that significantly impact their quality of life.

Amyloidosis Treatment

Treatment of Amyloidosis spans over 6-8 months and involves Immunotherapy accompanied by maintenance therapy, followed by an Autologous Bone Marrow Transplant—a procedure in which a patient's healthy stem cells (blood-forming cells) are collected from the bone marrow before treatment, stored, and then given back to the patient after treatment.

Recent drugs useful in treating multiple myeloma and lymphoma have also been found to be helpful in patients with AL Amyloidosis.

Amyloidosis Prevention and Detection

Underlying causes of the disease are not fully understood and thus there are no ways to prevent Amyloidosis. However, several symptomatic tests are available to diagnose and treat the condition in its initial phase.

To diagnose amyloidosis, the following tests may be performed:

  • Blood tests to check for abnormal proteins
  • Urine tests to detect amyloid in the urine
  • Biopsy of affected tissues to examine for presence of amyloid deposits
  • Imaging tests such as MRI, CT scan, and PET scan to visualize amyloid deposits in the body

 

It is important to seek medical attention if you experience symptoms that suggest amyloidosis, as early diagnosis and treatment can improve the prognosis of the disease.