Polycystic Kidney Disease

Polycystic Kidney Disease
Of all kidney-related health problems, one of the most common is Polycystic Kidney Disease, or PKD, which is the fourth leading cause of kidney failure. It affects all races and is found equally in men and women. It's an inherited disorder which results in noncancerous sacs containing water-like fluid forming on the kidneys. These sacs can slowly replace much of the kidneys, leading to a serious loss of kidney function. A significant percentage of people with this condition suffer kidney failure by the age of 60. The disease has no cure at this time, but there are a number of treatments which can be used.

The kidneys are not the only organs which are in jeopardy from PKD. The disease can spread, causing cysts to develop in the liver, pancreas, spleen, ovaries, and large bowel. Cysts can also appear in the brain, possibly resulting in an aneurysm, or in the heart, which can lead to a heart murmur.

There are a number of symptoms associated with PKD, such as high blood pressure, headaches, back or side pain, a swollen abdomen, blood in the urine, frequent bladder or kidney infections, and a fluttering or pounding in the chest. These are all indications that a patient may have PKD, but the most effective, reliable, inexpensive, and non-invasive way to diagnose PKD is through the use of a thorough ultrasound examination. In some instances, a CT scan and an MRI may be able to detect smaller cysts that can be missed by an ultrasound.

Although PKD is a chronic condition, there are a number of ways to deal with it. Among the more successful methods are medication to help control the associated high blood pressure, pain relievers, and surgical cyst removal. Some basic lifestyle changes may also help reduce serious kidney damage. As the kidneys lose more function, dialysis may be called for, and a kidney transplant might be needed at some point.

The basic cause of PKD is an irregularity at the genetic level, passed on by either or both parents. There is a form of PKD which is the result of spontaneous genetic mutation, but that is extremely rare. If either of your parents has PKD, you should be vigilant for symptoms and see a doctor if any of them develop. There are several different varieties of PKD and a treatment plan will depend on the variant you have. Your physician will most likely refer you to a Nephrologist who specializes in kidney ailments and he will determine the best course of action.


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