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Amyloidosis (am-uh-loi-DO-sis) is a rare disease that occurs when an abnormal protein, called amyloid, builds up in your organs and interferes with their normal function.

Amyloid isn’t normally found in the body, but it can be formed from several different types of protein. Organs that may be affected include the heart, kidneys, liver, spleen, nervous system and digestive tract.

Some varieties of amyloidosis occur in association with other diseases. These types may improve with treatment of the underlying disease. Some varieties of amyloidosis may lead to life-threatening organ failure.

Treatments may include chemotherapy similar to that used to combat cancer. Your doctor may suggest medications to reduce amyloid production and to control symptoms. Some people may benefit from organ or stem cell transplants.

Purpura around the eyes, a sign of amyloidosis
Purpura around the eyesOpen pop-up dialog boxEnlarged tongue, a sign of amyloidosis
Enlarged tongueOpen pop-up dialog box
You may not experience signs and symptoms of amyloidosis until the condition is advanced. When signs and symptoms are evident, they depend on which of your organs are affected.

Signs and symptoms of amyloidosis may include:

Swelling of your ankles and legs
Severe fatigue and weakness
Shortness of breath with minimal exertion
Unable to lie flat in bed due to shortness of breath
Numbness, tingling or pain in your hands or feet, especially pain in your wrist (carpal tunnel syndrome)
Diarrhea, possibly with blood, or constipation
Unintentional weight loss of more than 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms)
An enlarged tongue, which sometimes looks rippled around its edge
Skin changes, such as thickening or easy bruising, and purplish patches around the eyes
An irregular heartbeat
Difficulty swallowing
When to see a doctor
See your doctor if you persistently experience any of the signs or symptoms associated with amyloidosis.

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