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Symptoms and diagnosis of myeloma

We're here for you if you want to talk?

0808 2080 888

[email protected]

Symptoms of myeloma

The symptoms of myeloma are often described as ‘CRAB’ symptoms, because they are due to too much Calcium in the blood, Renal (kidney) damage, Anaemia (lack of red blood cells) or Bone damage.

Too much calcium in the blood can lead to:

  • feeling sick (nausea)
  • low appetite
  • difficulty pooing (constipation)
  • needing to wee more often
  • feeling thirsty or being dehydrated
  • not having as much energy as usual
  • feeling confused or dazed.

Kidney damage can lead to:

  • extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • itchy skin
  • feeling sick (nausea)
  • fluid retention that can make you short of breath or make your ankles swell.

Anaemia can lead to:

  • tiredness
  • breathlessness
  • paleness.

Some people also have symptoms linked to their bones, such as:

  • bone pain
  • bone damage as shown on X-rays – this may be thinning or fracturing of your bone in a few or many areas.

Contact your hospital if you develop new symptoms

If you get any new symptoms after you’ve been diagnosed, or if you feel unwell, contact your hospital straight away, even if you’re not sure if the symptom is related to the myeloma.

Your healthcare team will tell you whether you need to see them, or if you should see your GP instead.

Symptoms of pressure on the spine

Bone damage can cause pressure on your spine, which could lead to some of these symptoms:

  • central back pain, made worse if you move, cough or strain
  • a sudden change in a pain you’ve had for a long time
  • ‘crescendo’ pain (pain that becomes worse and then eases off)
  • pain that gets worse if you lie down or raise your legs
  • pain in either one or both legs, especially if it starts in your back and spreads to your legs
  • a tingling, ‘electrical’ feeling in your arms or body when you bend your head forwards
  • weeing or pooing uncontrollably, or having trouble going to the loo at all
  • weakness or loss of feeling, usually in your legs, starting in the feet and moving upwards.

It’s a good idea to share this information about new symptoms with your friends and family, so they can get medical help if you become unwell.

Contact your hospital if you develop symptoms of infection

Because your immune system won’t be working well, minor infections could become more serious.

Call your hospital if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • cough or sore throat
  • raised temperature
  • confusion or agitated behaviour, especially if this comes on suddenly
  • rapidly becoming more ill
  • fast heartbeat and breathing
  • difficulty weeing or not weeing at all
  • pain that gets worse very quickly.

Symptoms of infection may be less obvious because of your illness or if you’re taking paracetamol-based medicines.

Dawn, support line worker

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