Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)

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Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is an autosomal genetic disorder that causes the growth and proliferation of fluid-filled cysts in the kidneys. Cysts that are related to polycystic kidney disease (PKD) can slowly replace a high amount of kidneys’ tissue, reducing kidney function and eventually leading to kidney failure.

It is important to differentiate polycystic kidney disease from the normal formation of cysts in the kidneys, which not necessarily must lead to kidney failure. The most important way to detect polycystic kidney disease is to also find cysts present in the liver, heart or other body parts, such as the brain’s blood vessels.

Causes Of Polycystic Kidney Disease

PKD is an autosomal inherited condition. Currently there are two genetic means of transference known to be related to polycystic kidney disease: dominant and recessive.

Autosomal dominant PKD is the most common form (about 90 percent of the cases). On the other hand, autosomal recessive PKD is very rare. Their main difference in manifestation is that the autosomal dominant form of polycystic kidney disease generally shows its symptoms on a person’s mid thirties, while recessive PKD can become apparent within the first years of life, and even during gestation.

In some extremely rare cases, the genetic mutation that causes PKD develops spontaneously within a child’s DNA even when no parents have this kidney disease.

Symptoms Of Polycystic Kidney Disease

People with autosomal dominant PKD may live for decades without developing symptoms. For this reason, autosomal dominant PKD is often referred to as adult polycystic kidney disease. The most common symptoms of polycystic kidney disease are pain in the kidney area and headaches. Other symptoms may include development of urinary infections, blood in the urine, presence of cysts in the liver and pancreas, kidney stones, high blood pressure, brain aneurisms and also diverticulosis (presence of small sacs on the colon).

Treatment Of Polycystic Kidney Disease

Although PKD cannot be cured, there are treatments that help people live normal lives with the disease. These treatments focus on eliminating the symptoms of polycystic kidney disease (PKD) and at the same time helping the kidneys perform their functions, or in advanced states, replacing them with other human kidneys (kidney transplant) or external mechanical kidneys (dialysis).

Prevention Of Polycystic Kidney Disease

Although PKD cannot be prevented, there are some actions that will extend the functional life of the kidneys. The best way to keep kidney failure as far as possible is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Increasing the consumption of water and other liquids can help your kidneys, and reducing consumption of salt can also help. Keeping blood pressure under control is certainly a good practice too.

An early diagnosis (by amniocentesis test or a placenta biopsy in unborn babies) can determine what actions to take to keep the kidneys healthy for as long as possible, and this will help (many decades later) in keeping adult polycystic kidney disease under control.