What You Need to Know About Polycystic Kidney Disease

November 12, 2012

What You Need to Know About Polycystic Kidney Disease

There is a lot we do not know about polycystic kidney disease or PKD. We do not know how to cure it or just why it develops ion the first place. It is unknown how many people in the world suffer with this disease or who carry the gene for it. Most people who develop PKD are middle aged. But we do know that when it starts, many cysts or fluid-filled round sacs grow in the kidneys. This causes the kidneys to malfunction. It also commonly causes high blood pressure and cysts in the liver. A person also becomes more prone to developing kidney stones and suffering from urinary tract infections. Once the cysts begin to grow, they proliferate rapidly. Cysts have been known to grow as heavy as 30 pounds. The cysts may burst open, causing the body to become anemic. Causes Polycystic kidney disease comes in two forms – autosomal dominant and autosomal recessive. Both forms are caused by genes. A child with PKD received genes for PKD from at least one of its parents. People carrying the gene do not necessarily develop polycystic kidney disease. Just why some people develop PKD and some do not is still largely unknown. PKD can also develop after a person has experienced severe medical conditions such as brain aneurysm, aortic (heart) aneurysm, cyst growth in the testicles and cyst growth in the colon (known as diverticula of the colon.) People who develop PKD after suffering these conditions may not know of any relatives with PKD. Whether that means people without the PKD gene can develop PKD is still unknown.

Signs and Symptoms The symptoms of PKD need to be addressed as soon as possible, before the disease progresses to permanent kidney failure or spreads to the liver. Common symptoms of polycystic kidney disease include:

  • Chronic headaches

  • Rise in blood pressure

  • Passing pink, red or brown blood in the urine

  • Frequent recurrence of kidney stones

  • Frequent recurrence of urinary tract infections

  • Pain in the lower back

  • Abdomen increases in size not due to overall weight gain

  • Needing to urinate more often than usual, especially at night.

Uncommon symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Chronic fatigue

  • Pain in the joints similar to arthritis pain

  • Change in color, shape or texture of finger or toenails

  • Increase in liver size

  • Tenderness in the abdomen due to increased liver size

  • Kidney failure.

Polycystic kidney disorder never clears up by itself. Prognosis The prognosis for anyone with polycystic kidney disease is poor, especially for children. Adults sometimes are able to live for years through a combination of lifestyle changes and medication. Infants and children do not live to reach adulthood. Fortunately, PKD rarely affects children. The only treatment available for PKD is to treat the individual symptoms. There are no known medications or treatments to stop cyst growth or spreading to other organs of the body. The patient is encouraged to go on a low-salt, low-fat diet to lower high blood pressure. Surgery may drain cysts to help with pain. In some cases, a kidney transplant may be necessary.

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