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The Main Causes of Amyloidosis

Amyloidosis is a condition caused by the build up of an abnormal protein by the bone marrow, known as amyloid, on an organ or tissue. The disease exists in different types dependant on the organ or tissue affected (i.e., digestive system, spleen, liver, kidney, heart, or nervous system).

While there is no known cure for amyloidosis, treating the disease is imperative to reduce symptoms (by reducing levels of amyloid protein) and prevent life-threatening failure of the impacted organ. Amyloidosis affects patients differently dependant upon the organ it strikes, however, it tends to cause a combination of the following symptoms:

  • Discolored skin, specifically the eyelids and under eyes
  • Racing heart
  • Prone to bruising
  • Numbness in the hands and feet
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Swallowing issues
  • Swollen tongue
  • Inflammation in the extremities, or edema
  • Constipation
  • Bloody diarrhea

Again, amyloidosis is specifically caused by the build up of excessive amyloid protein, however, it occurs in different types depending on the affected organ, such as:

1. Hereditary amyloidosis
The hereditary form of the disease is also known as familial amyloidosis due to the fact that this form must be inherited from a near relative. Hereditary amyloidosis is considered a birth abnormality, which increases the risk of amyloid disease development. This type often strikes the heart, kidneys, liver, and the nervous system.

2. AA amyloidosis
Often referred to as secondary amyloidosis, this disease type often accompanies a series of inflammatory diseases (i.e., inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis) or infections of the liver, digestive tract, or cardiovascular system, and thus, impacts these organs most often.

3. Dialysis-related amyloidosis
This disease type often impacts patients undertaking long term dialysis, and sets into the tendons and joints, resulting in edema, stiffness, and chronic joint pain. An early warning sign of dialysis related amyloidosis is often carpal tunnel syndrome.

4. AL amyloidosis
Also known as primary amyloidosis or immunoglobulin light chain amyloidosis, this type the most prevalent amyloidosis type, and results due to excess antibodies formed in the bone marrow. Issues often arise in the liver, skin, heart, nerves, and kidneys when the body is unable to break down these abnormal proteins.

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