In people with amyloidosis, amyloid proteins can clump together and affect body tissues and organs, such as kidney and heart function. This can cause symptoms like fatigue and dizziness, among others.

Amyloidosis is a rare systemic disorder that affects body tissues and organs. The symptoms and severity of amyloidosis can vary between individuals, although some symptoms are more common than others.

Read on to learn more about the ways amyloidosis can affect the body and what you can do to manage these symptoms.

Amyloid proteins can build up in your kidneys, which are responsible for removing waste from the body via urine.

When your kidneys are overloaded with these proteins, they can’t work as well. This can lead to:

  • scarring
  • low levels of protein in your blood and too much in your urine
  • high levels of blood cholesterol and other fats
  • kidney failure

Dialysis may make kidney function worse for some people, so talk with your doctor about the preservation of kidney function and if you are a candidate for a kidney transplant.

It’s also possible to develop high blood pressure from kidney issues, so you may also need medications to lower it.

When amyloid proteins overwhelm your organs, they may affect your energy, strength, and sleep, causing increasing fatigue.

Fatigue and tiredness due to amyloidosis may be severe. You may not feel up to doing the activities you once enjoyed and may need frequent naps during the day.

Staying as active as possible and eating a balanced, nutritious diet may help reduce fatigue and support overall health.

You may develop anemia (low red blood cell count), which can also cause fatigue.

Amyloidosis can affect the heart, making it pump blood less effectively. These complications can lead to symptoms like shortness of breath as fluid collects in the lungs, causing the sensation of not having enough air. It can also lead to low blood pressure.

If you have severe shortness of breath, doctors can likely prescribe medication to help your heart pump more effectively.

Strenuous activities can worsen shortness of breath from amyloidosis. You may need to avoid strenuous exercise, such as running. Doctors typically recommend moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking or gentle yoga.

Amyloidosis can affect your skin.

Some of the skin changes amyloidosis can cause include:

  • bruising
  • purple patches around your eyes, or periorbital purpura
  • thickened skin
  • hair loss
  • tongue thickening, along with an irregular shape

Amyloidosis can affect the nervous system, which controls several nerves and basic bodily functions.

Signs that amyloidosis is affecting the nervous system include:

  • dizziness
  • burning sensations in your feet
  • peripheral neuropathy, which can cause numbness and tingling in your fingers and toes
  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • lightheadedness or faintness upon standing
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • constipation

Your doctor may prescribe medications to treat peripheral neuropathy, a complication of amyloidosis that can cause pain and numbness. If you have this in your feet, you’ll need to take extra care to prevent ulcers. This includes wearing the right socks and footwear and making sure your feet stay clean and dry.

With amyloidosis, you may have diarrhea, constipation, or both. Your stool may also contain blood. These symptoms can be accompanied by malabsorption of nutrients, which happens when your digestive tract cannot take in the necessary nutrients from food.

Your doctor may give you specific diet recommendations to help reduce bowel irritation.

Amyloidosis can cause unintentional weight loss. You may lose a significant amount of weight in a short amount of time. Swallowing difficulties and an enlarged tongue from amyloidosis can make eating uncomfortable, so you may eat less than you intend to.

Speak with your doctor about ways to ensure you get enough energy and nutrients from your diet, including meal-replacement drinks.

Amyloidosis can also cause fluid retention and swelling, especially in the feet and legs. This is known as edema.

Your doctor may recommend diuretics to help reduce fluid retention so you can walk and fit into your shoes and clothing more comfortably. Sometimes, a low sodium diet can help. It’s best to talk with a doctor before making any big changes to your diet.

While drinking enough water to stay hydrated is important, drinking too much water can worsen fluid retention. You can talk with your doctor about how much water you should drink based on your hydration needs.

The symptoms of amyloidosis vary from person to person and may mimic symptoms of other conditions. There may be slight variations in symptoms depending on the type of amyloidosis you have.

If you experience any of the above symptoms, be sure to get in touch with your doctor. There’s no cure for amyloidosis, but treatment and lifestyle modifications can help ease your symptoms and prevent further complications.