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About Polycystic Kidney Disease

by Jennifer Escalona
  • Overview

    About Polycystic Kidney Disease
    About Polycystic Kidney Disease
    Polycystic Kidney Disease is a genetic disorder that causes multiple cysts to form on the kidneys. PKD causes the kidneys to grow over time and may be harmful to kidney tissue. PKD is sometimes implicated in chronic renal failure or late-stage renal disease. The PKD Foundation estimated in 2009 that 12.5 million people worldwide suffer from polycystic kidney disease.
  • Description

    Cysts are round fluid-filled sacs that can occur almost anywhere in the body. Though some kidney cysts are benign and even common in people over 50, in PKD, their appearance is often compared to a cluster of grapes on the surface of the kidney, and they are responsible for invading and destroying kidney tissue.
  • Types

    There are two types of PKD, and both are passed down genetically. Autosomal dominant is the most common type of PKD and symptoms usually occur in people between the ages of 30 and 40, though symptoms do sometimes manifest in children. The second type, autosomal recessive, is rare, and symptoms appear shortly after birth.
  • Symptoms

    Children and adults with PKD often suffer from high blood pressure that begins early in the course of the disease. Intermittent pain in the back, side or stomach can also occur when a cyst bleeds, or when infection or a kidney stone is present. In a small number of PKD patients, this pain may become chronic. Another symptom of PKD is blood in the urine. This symptom is estimated to occur in close to 50 percent of PKD patients and will result in pink, red or brown urine. Frequent urination, urinary tract infections and kidney stones are three additional common symptoms of PKD. Sufferers from PKD should always contact their doctor if new or unusual symptoms, such as blood in the urine, occur, because many symptoms of PKD require antibiotics or other treatment.
  • Prevention

    While PDK is a hereditary disease and cannot be prevented, regular checkups can control symptoms.
  • Risks

    PKD's cysts are not limited to the kidneys. Advanced forms of the disease can cause cysts to form in the liver, pancreas and the membranes surrounding the brain.

    References & Resources