Amyloidosis (am-uh-loi-DO-sis) is a rare disease that occurs when a protein called amyloid builds up in organs. This amyloid buildup can make the organs not work properly.

Organs that may be affected include the heart, kidneys, liver, spleen, nervous system and digestive tract.

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

Treatments may include chemotherapy with strong drugs used to treat cancer. Other types of medications can reduce amyloid production and control symptoms. Some people may benefit from organ or stem cell transplants.

You may not experience symptoms of amyloidosis until later in the course of the disease. Symptoms may vary, depending on which organs are affected.

Signs and symptoms of amyloidosis may include:

  • Severe fatigue and weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Numbness, tingling, or pain in the hands or feet
  • Swelling of the ankles and legs
  • Diarrhea, possibly with blood, or constipation
  • An enlarged tongue, which sometimes looks rippled around its edge
  • Skin changes, such as thickening or easy bruising, and purplish patches around the eyes