Polycystic kidney disease

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Overview

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is an inherited disorder in which clusters of cysts develop primarily within your kidneys, causing your kidneys to enlarge and lose function over time. Cysts are noncancerous round sacs containing fluid. The cysts vary in size, and they can grow very large. Having many cysts or large cysts can damage your kidneys.

Polycystic kidney disease can also cause cysts to develop in your liver and elsewhere in your body. The disease can cause serious complications, including high blood pressure and kidney failure.

PKD varies greatly in its severity, and some complications are preventable. Lifestyle changes and treatments might help reduce damage to your kidneys from complications.

Symptoms

High blood pressure.

Back or side pain.

Blood in your urine.

A feeling of fullness in your abdomen.

Increased size of your abdomen due to enlarged kidneys.

Headaches.

Kidney stones.

Kidney failure.

Causes

Abnormal genes cause polycystic kidney disease, which means that in most cases, the disease runs in families. Sometimes, a genetic mutation occurs on its own (spontaneous), so that neither parent has a copy of the mutated gene.

The two main types of polycystic kidney disease, caused by different genetic flaws, are:

Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD). Signs and symptoms of ADPKD often develop between the ages of 30 and 40. In the past, this type was called adult polycystic kidney disease, but children can develop the disorder.

Only one parent needs to have the disease for it to pass to the children. If one parent has ADPKD, each child has a 50% chance of getting the disease. This form accounts for most of the cases of polycystic kidney disease.

Autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease (ARPKD). This type is far less common than is ADPKD. The signs and symptoms often appear shortly after birth. Sometimes, symptoms don't appear until later in childhood or during adolescence.

Both parents must have abnormal genes to pass on this form of the disease. If both parents carry a gene for this disorder, each child has a 25% chance of getting the disease.

Risk factors

PKD1 genotype.

Large kidneys.

Several episodes of gross hematuria.

Severe and frequent kidney infections.

Hypertension.

Multiple pregnancies.

Black racial background.

Male sex.

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Complications

High blood pressure. ...

Loss of kidney function. ...

Chronic pain. ...

Growth of cysts in the liver. ...

Development of an aneurysm in the brain. ...

Pregnancy complications. ...

Heart valve abnormalities. ...

Colon problems.

Prevention

If you have polycystic kidney disease and you're considering having children, a genetic counselor can help you assess your risk of passing the disease to your offspring.


Keeping your kidneys as healthy as possible may help prevent some of the complications of this disease. One of the most important ways you can protect your kidneys is by managing your blood pressure.


Here are some tips for keeping your blood pressure in check:


Take the blood pressure medications prescribed by your doctor as directed.

Eat a low-salt diet containing plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Maintain a healthy weight. Ask your doctor what the right weight is for you.

If you smoke, quit.

Exercise regularly. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week.

Limit alcohol use.