Signs and Symptoms of Bone Marrow Disease With High Protein in the Blood

Multiple myeloma is a blood disease characterized by high levels of protein in the blood. This is a cancerous condition affecting the plasma cells in the bone marrow. Normally, plasma cells produce proteins called immunoglobulins. These proteins are part of the body's defense system against diseases. In multiple myeloma, the plasma cells become abnormal, do not function properly and cannot fight infections.They eventually replace the normal marrow in the bones.

Bone Pain

Often the first symptom of multiple myeloma is pain in the bones due to abnormal plasma cells in the bone marrow. The pain associated with multiple myeloma can be mild to severe. It can happen at rest or while ambulating. Frequently, strong medications, such as narcotics, are used to minimize the bone pain. In many people, bone damage is severe before any symptoms are noticed. The bones of the arms, legs, skull, vertebrae and rib cage are often affected in multiple myeloma patients. Also, bone fractures may occur for no apparent reason; this is most likely due to the degenerative effects of abnormal plasma cells.


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Because cancerous plasma cells replace the normal blood-forming cells in the bone marrow, anemia develops. Anemia occurs because there are fewer red blood cells carrying less oxygen to all the other cells in the body. The marrow also produces fewer platelets. Platelets are blood cells that stop bleeding. As a result, multiple myeloma patients may experience bleeding gums, nosebleeds or easy bruising, which further exacerbates blood loss. With anemia comes an increase in fatigue as well.

High Blood Calcium

With multiple myeloma, high levels of calcium in the blood occur when calcium from affected bones enters the bloodstream. A high level of calcium in the blood increases thirst and urination, mental confusion, constipation, loss of appetite, nausea and weight loss.


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Hyperviscosity is a decrease in the speed of blood flow through the arteries, veins and capillaries. This is due to high levels of protein in the blood released by abnormal plasma cells. Because of the large amount of protein in the blood, a person with multiple myeloma may see an increase in bruising, nose bleeds, cloudy vision, headaches and intestinal bleeding. Moreover, kidney function may be affected because the excess protein in the blood puts an extra strain on the kidneys' ability to filter the blood and dispose of excess salt, fluid and body waste products properly.


Patients with multiple myeloma are at risk for infection because of the lack of white blood cells, which are the body's defense against infection. White blood cells are crowded out by abnormal plasma cells. Someone with multiple myeloma may have repeated infections of the bladder, kidney and skin infections, and may develop shingles, pneumonia or sinusitis. Immunoglobulins also fight infection. In multiple myeloma, normal immunoglobulins are not produced, which also limits the body's ability to fight infection.