Polycystic Kidney Disease


Polycystic kidney disease is a complex illness characterized by numerous growths of cysts in the kidneys.

Over time, the detrimental result of the polycystic kidney disease are kidneys that are enlarged and prone to failure. Though primarily a disease of the kidneys, this condition can cause issues in other places throughout the body.


Causes of Polycystic Kidney Disease

Polycystic kidney disease is usually hereditary. The occurrence of this mutation of genes generally runs in families, and the possibility of it happening spontaneously is rare. There are two types of polycystic kidney disease. The first is autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease. This is the more common of the two and accounts for 90 percent of cases. It normally presents later in life, although children can still develop it. This form of the disease only requires one parent to carry the abnormal gene.

The second form of the disease is autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease. In this form, signs and symptoms typically present fairly close to the time of birth. Both parents must carry the mutated gene for it to be passed to their children. In this scenario, there is a 25 percent chance that the child will get the disease.


Polycystic kidney disease can be active for a number of years before signs and symptoms become apparent. At that point, it is important to seek out medical care as soon as possible. There are a number of symptoms to be aware of. These include, but are not limited to, high blood pressure, headache, full feeling in the abdomen, kidney stones and failure, side or back pain, and blood in urine.


Unfortunately, there are a number of adverse complications that can surface with the onset of polycystic kidney disease. Some of these are more common, while others are rare and more dangerous. For instance, a woman who has the disease can generally successfully carry and deliver children without issue. Some, however, may experience a condition called preeclampsia that can result in serious pregnancy concerns Other complications to be aware of are the growth of cysts on the liver, chronic pain, development of an aneurysm, and mitral valve prolapse in the heart.

Treatment Options

There is currently no cure for polycystic kidney disease, so treatment of the disease centers around managing and controlling the various complications and symptoms.

This process starts by determining the overall health of the kidneys and the number of cysts present. Imaging scans like ultrasounds and MRIs are used for this.

High blood pressure is common for those suffering from the disease, so measures are taken to keep it under control. This includes alterations in diet and steps to reduce stress. Antibiotics are used to correct any infections of the kidneys or bladder and if the kidneys fail, dialysis may be required. Any pain that may be experienced is handled with pain medication and pain management techniques.