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Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is a genetic order that causes fluid-filled cysts to form in the kidneys. If too many of these cysts form or if the cysts grow too large, the kidneys can become damaged and lose their ability to filter waste from the body properly. Approximately 600,000 people suffer from PKD, and it is the fourth leading cause of kidney failure. 

Symptoms of Polycystic Kidney Disease

The symptoms of PKD vary from person to person, and many people do not even develop any until they are 30 to 40 years old. Some main signs of PKD include: 

  • High blood pressure
  • Back or side pain
  • Blood in urine
  • Increased size of the abdomen 
  • Frequent bladder or kidney infections
  • Headaches
  • Kidney stones
  • Fluttering or pounding in the chest

Types of Polycystic Kidney Disease

There are two main types of PKD: autosomal dominant PKD and autosomal recessive PKD. 

Autosomal Dominant PKD

This type of PKD is the most common form of PKD and is passed from parent to child by dominant inheritance. This type of inheritance means that only one parent needs to have PKD to pass it down to their children. 

Autosomal Recessive PKD

Autosomal recessive PKD (ARPKD) requires two copies of the mutated gene to pass on the disorder. It is significantly less common than the autosomal dominant variant. A fetus with ARPKD can cause serious health complications to itself and the mother, so these pregnancies must be monitored very carefully. 

Treatment for Polycystic Kidney Disease

Although a significant amount of research is being done, there is currently no cure for PKD. Fortunately, there are ways to slow the growth of cysts, therefore, slowing down the loss of kidney function for those with PKD. 

Modify Your Diet

To manage your blood control and protect your kidneys, it is important to follow a certain diet to slow kidney failure. This diet may include smaller portions of protein, a low intake of salt, and plenty of water. Individuals affected with PKD should also avoid caffeinated beverages. 

Quit Smoking

Using tobacco products can significantly raise your blood pressure, which exacerbates kidney damage. 

Exercise Regularly

Staying active for at least 30 minutes every day is essential for reducing stress, managing weight, and regulating your blood pressure. Being overweight and stressed can considerably increase the deterioration of your kidney function. Although exercise is crucial, remember to avoid contact sports because trauma to the back and sides could cause your kidney cysts to burst. 


To reduce the progression of kidney disease, make sure to seek immediate treatment for any bladder or kidney infections with antibiotics. You may also be prescribed medications to regulate your blood pressure.

Diagnosing Polycystic Kidney Disease

A majority of the time, PKD will be diagnosed using ultrasounds, which are reliable, non-invasive, and inexpensive. However, PKD may be diagnosed using a computed tomography scan (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to identify smaller cysts that an ultrasound cannot see. 

Contact Summit Medical Clinic 

At Summit Medical Clinic, we provide both primary and nephrology care to optimize patient outcomes. If you believe you may be at risk for PKD or if you have PKD and have recently learned you are pregnant, contact SMC today!

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