Multiple myeloma is cancer of the immune system, particularly the bone marrow by altering the plasma cells in the blood. Plasma cells live in your bone marrow and are responsible for targeting and fighting off infections by producing antibodies. With multiple myeloma, however, these plasma cells become cancerous in nature, overcrowding the bone marrow and forcing healthy cells out. Eventually patients with multiple myeloma are unable to produce antibodies to fight off infections.
Some early symptoms of multiple myeloma include the following:
A decrease in blood cell count can lead to fatigue in Multiple myeloma patients. A low red blood cell count, also known as anemia, causes fatigue due to the fact that your tissues are receiving less oxygen. Your white blood cells are also expending more energy to fight off infections which can also lead to fatigue.
2. Low blood cell count
The introduction of cancerous cells into your body can slow down the production of normal blood cells which leaves to a low blood cell count. This can affect your body in a multitude of ways including anemia, complications with your immune system, blood clotting issues and increased bleeding.
3. Excessive bleeding
Cuts and scrapes will bleed an excessive amount due to the decrease in your level of blood platelets which help clot the blood.
4. High calcium blood levels
Hypercalcemia Is a condition where your blood has too much calcium in it. Hypercalcemia can cause cardiac arrest or coma in serious cases. Other side effects include increased thirst, restlessness, nausea and vomiting, increasing urination, loss of appetite and difficulty thinking.
5. Bone damage
Multiple myeloma can cause your body to stop making new bone cells which causes bone pain throughout your body but is most common in the hips, the skull and the back. Your bones will also be weaker so it will be easier to break or fracture them.
6. Weak immune health
Multiple myeloma weakens the immune system by creating ineffective antibodies that crowd out the healthy ones. This will leave your body up to 15 times more susceptible to contract and infection compared to people without the disease. A common infection caught by myeloma patients is pneumonia.
7. Kidney problems
This disease can potentially cause an excess of calcium and myeloma protein that is present in your bloodstream which can cause problems for your kidney. Your kidneys may gradually become less functional and begin to fail, losing the ability to filter out excess fluids and salt correctly. Side effects could include shortness of breath, leg swelling, itching and fatigue.
8. Nervous system issues
Multiple myeloma affects your bones and if it begins to weaken the bones in your spine, it could cause spinal cord compression. This is a serious condition where you begin to feel numbness and muscle weakness in your body, usually in the legs. If not treated immediately, it could result in permanent paralysis.
If a patient begins to produce a large number of myeloma protein in the blood, this can cause the blood to start thickening and the flow of blood to slow down. This condition can cause dizziness, confusion, slurred speech and other stroke-like symptoms.
10. Gastrointestinal problems
A common side effect of Multiple myeloma is gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, vomiting, constipation and diarrhea.
11. Plasma cell disorders
This disease attacks your body’s plasma cells so It can cause a plethora of plasma cell disorders including Monoclonal Gammopathy, Solitary Plasmacytomas, Light Chain Amyloidosis and Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia.