Getting the Facts on PKD

Posted Thursday, March 7, 2019

Did You Know? PKD is a leading cause of kidney failure  

There Are More Than 200,000 Cases of PKD Each Year 

PKD Equally Affects People of All Races, Genders, Nationalities and Income Levels

Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) is a genetic disorder wherein clusters of cysts develop in the kidneys. The cysts are noncancerous fluid-filled sacs that can grow very large and result in serious complications.  Lifestyle changes and medical treatments may reduce damage to the kidneys. The following guide has been prepared to provide information on symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and prevention for PKD. 

01 | Understanding PKD

The cysts associated with PKD cause the kidneys to grow much larger than they should and damage kidney tissue. This damage leads to chronic kidney disease, which can result in kidney failure or end-stage renal disease. There are two types of PKD:

  • Autosomal Dominant PKD – occurs during adulthood, typically between ages 30-50, and causes cysts only in the kidneys. If one parent carries the gene for ADPKD, each child has a 50% chance of getting the disease.
  • Autosomal Recessive PKD – often called infantile PKD because it can occur before birth or shortly thereafter. This type of PKD causes cysts to grow both in the kidneys and liver. Both parents must carry the gene to pass ARPKD on to a child.

02 | Symptoms

Symptoms may include the following:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Headache
  • Distended abdomen
  • Blood in the urine and/or frequent urination
  • Back or side pain
  • Kidney stones
  • Kidney failure
  • UTI or kidney infections

03 | Diagnosis

If your medical provider suspects PKD, imaging tests will be performed to look for visible signs of cysts. A genetic test may also be performed to determine exactly what kind of PKD you have.   

04 | Treatment & Prevention

There is no cure for PKD; however, there are treatment options to help reduce symptoms associated with the disease. Lifestyle adjustments including a low-sodium, low-fat diet, as well as moderate exercise, refraining from smoking and reducing stress may help control high blood pressure. Pain is generally mild and can be treated with OTC medications containing acetaminophen. In more severe cases, surgery may be required, and in some cases, a kidney transplant may be necessary. 

While the disease cannot be prevented, keeping your kidneys as healthy as possible may help prevent complications and discomfort. Managing your blood pressure is one of the most important ways you can protect your kidneys. 

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