To prevent the progression of amyloidosis and the damage it can cause, your doctor should recommend a treatment plan that includes certain medications or procedures. Still, treatment for amyloidosis doesn’t have to stop with conventional medicine.
There are ways to ease your symptoms and improve your well-being with natural and complementary therapies. Here are eight to get you started.
Amyloidosis can cause fatigue and weakness, so the last thing you may want to do is exercise. Plus, cardiac issues can make intense workouts out of the question. Running and other high-intensity exercises can be challenging with amyloidosis, but this doesn’t mean you have to stop moving completely.
It’s best to stick with light or moderate-intensity exercises — anything that helps keep you moving without being too strenuous.
Talk to your doctor about:
- Tai chi
- weight training
- walking programs
By exercising regularly, you can help fight pain and fatigue related to amyloidosis. The key, though, is to exercise safely. Finding a workout buddy can help.
2. Sleep therapy
Daytime fatigue can make it difficult to sleep at night, especially if you take a lot of naps. Then, insomnia can make fatigue during the day worse. This is a vicious cycle that can be made worse by pain and discomfort in the middle of the night.
If you’re having trouble with insomnia and daytime fatigue, talk to your doctor about sleep therapy. Meditation and deep breathing exercises before bedtime can also help you fall asleep easier.
3. Reduced-salt diet
Reducing the amount of salt in your diet can help with swelling from fluid buildup in the body.
With amyloidosis, your kidneys may not retain protein efficiently. Your heart’s ability to pump blood may also be impaired. Together, this can cause swelling, especially in lower extremities like the legs and feet.
Too much salt can exacerbate such issues. Your doctor may recommend that you follow a low-salt diet to help with swelling. This can also protect your heart and kidneys from further damage.
4. Meal replacements
People living with amyloidosis often don’t receive adequate nutrients from food. This may be due to tongue swelling, difficulty swallowing, loss of appetite, or intestinal dysfunction.
While occasionally skipping a meal won’t necessarily cause harm, not eating enough over weeks and months can lead to malnutrition. Because of this, amyloidosis can also lead to unintentional weight loss.
You should consider talking to your doctor about meal replacement shakes or smoothies if eating traditional meals isn’t appealing to you. This way, you can get the nutrients your body needs to maintain energy and brain and muscle function.
5. Other dietary changes
While there’s no clear amyloidosis diet, dietary modifications have helped some people feel better.
There isn’t a lot of research in this area, but you should stick to a balanced diet. This includes lean protein, healthy fats, fiber, and fruits and vegetables.
Also, if you’re experiencing bowel symptoms, it’s a good idea to refrain from coffee, alcohol, and spices. These can all aggravate a delicate gastrointestinal tract.
There are also some studies on the potential neurological impacts of tea on amyloidosis. According to Neurotherapeutics, the polyphenols in tea have been shown to possibly prevent amyloid protein aggregation and deposition when consumed in high quantities. Still, more research needs to be done to determine the benefits.
6. Fluid adjustments
While it’s important to drink lots of water, you may need to be careful not to drink too much water. This is especially true if you’re dealing with heart problems related to amyloidosis.
For cardiac amyloidosis, the National Amyloidosis Centre recommends no more than one and a half liters of fluids per day. This works out to be about 50 ounces, or just over six cups per day. By maintaining this balance of fluid intake, you may notice reduced symptoms of leg swelling. This may also help with shortness of breath.
Diuretics (also called “water pills”) can help alleviate amyloidosis-related fluid retention. These are available by prescription.
Check with your doctor first to see if diuretics are a right fit, and how much you should take. You may notice significant improvements in lower extremity swelling, especially when combined with a low-salt diet.
8. Foot massage
Between pain and swelling, it may sometimes seem like your feet can’t catch a break.
Even if you wear comfortable footwear, you may still experience pain and discomfort. This is where a foot massage can help. It can increase blood flow to alleviate your symptoms.
If you’re not keen on having other people touch your feet, you can give yourself a foot massage, too.
Even if you take medications or undergo other treatments for amyloidosis, complementary therapies can help. When used in conjunction with conventional medicine, these therapies can make it easier to deal with your symptoms and medication side effects.
Talk to your doctor about these therapies so you can be on your way to a better quality of life.