Symptoms of LAM
The symptoms of LAM are varied and can include some (or all) of the following:
- Dyspnea (Shortness of Breath) – This is the feeling of being breathless or difficulty breathing without assistance. Shortness of breath is an extremely common symptom of LAM.
- Pleurisy (Chest Pain) – Pleurisy is often caused by inflammation or irritation of the chest wall and the lining of the lungs. Chest pain can be caused by many things including infections, pneumothorax or scar tissue from previous procedures. Many women with LAM experience chest pain from time to time.
- Chronic cough
- Pneumothorax (lung collapse) – A pneumothorax is defined as a leakage of air from the lung into the chest cavity. The air outside the lung creates negative air pressure in that space which causes the lung to deflate.
- Angiomyolipoma (benign kidney tumor) – Angiomyolipomas are benign tumors often found in the kidneys of LAM patients. They are made up of three kinds of tissue: “angio” refers to blood vessels, “myo” refers to smooth muscle cells and “lipo” refers to fat tissue. These tumors can vary by patient and depending on the tissue distribution can be more prone to bleeding or other complications.
- Pleural Effusion (Chylothorax) – Pleural effusion is a leakage and accumulation of fluid (known as chyle) into the chest cavity. About 30% of women with LAM experience problems with chyle leakage during the course of their disease. Chyle is a milky white fluid consisting of lymph and droplets of triglyceride fat and can sometimes be tinged by blood.
It is important to note that no two women experience symptoms of LAM in the same way. About two-thirds of LAM patients will have at least one lung collapse (pneumothorax) and about one-third will have leakage of fluid into the chest cavity (chylothorax). Angiomyolipomas (benign kidney tumors that tend to be asymptomatic) can be found in about 30% of women with LAM.