Amyloidosis: Symptoms

Amyloidosis symptoms vary depending on the organ that is affected and how much protein has built up in that area. Since one or several organs may be affected symptoms may vary widely, and seem vague or general, at first. Often it takes a team of specialists to diagnose this illness. Since this is a rapidly progressing disease, time is of the essence—it is important to begin treatment as soon as possible.

  • When the kidneys are affected, patients may report foamy urine. A physician will order a urine test to find out if amyloid protein that has accumulated in the urine.
  • When the nervous system is affected, patients may develop numbness, tingling or weakness in the arms or legs. Carpal tunnel syndrome may also occur. Very often patients experience a change or loss of taste as well as low blood pressure and dizziness when changing the positions.
  • When there is abnormal accumulation of amyloid protein in the heart, patients may experience shortness of breath, dizziness, irregular heartbeat or edema—swelling of the ankles and legs.
  • If amyloid has accumulated in the gastrointestinal system patients may have heartburn (Gastrointestinal reflux disease GERD), difficulty swallowing, bleeding, diarrhea, constipation and, a hallmark symptom is swelling of the tongue (macroglosia) 
  • Other symptoms may also include unexplained weight loss, severe fatigue, skin thickening or easy bruising, purpura—purple patches around the eyes.