Polycystic kidney disease is an inherited kidney disorder that creates fluid-filled cysts in the kidney. These cysts are noncancerous but can grow to dangerous sizes. Polycystic kidney disease is more serious than regular kidney cysts. Kidney damage can occur when these cysts become too large, or too plentiful. This condition can also cause cysts in the liver and other places throughout the body. Polycystic kidney disease can cause kidney failure.
There are two dominant types of polycystic kidney disease:
Polycystic kidney disease is a genetic disorder, which means that a mutated gene causes the disorder. However, genes can mutate randomly so there is a chance that the condition can develop spontaneously.
ADPKD and ARPKD have different genetic causes.
A small portion of polycystic kidney disease cases are not due to genetic mutation. Patients who develop acquired polycystic kidney disease have had other kinds of kidney disease and used hemodialysis as a treatment.
Some people have polycystic kidney disease without ever presenting symptoms. Once cysts reach 0.5 inches or larger, people begin to experience symptoms.
Symptoms of polycystic kidney disease include:
Children who have ARPKD might also present symptoms like:
When children develop ARPKD, the symptoms might seem like other conditions. If a child is experiencing symptoms of ARPKD, they should see a medical professional.
Polycystic kidney disease is, for the most part, an inherited disorder. People whose parents have polycystic kidney disease are at risk of developing either ADPKD or ARPKD.
People who have had different types of kidney disease and used dialysis as a form of treatment are at risk of developing acquired polycystic kidney disease.
Polycystic kidney disease can cause several complications, including:
Infants with polycystic kidney disease might have liver issues, breathing problems, high blood pressure, and kidney failure.
ADPKD and ARPKD are inherited disorders, so a doctor will go through a patient’s family history to determine if there is a genetic possibility of developing the disease. Then, a doctor might use a blood count to rule out anemia and a urinalysis to look for bacteria, blood or protein in the urine.
Doctors will also use specific tests to determine the size and amount of kidney cysts. These tests include:
There are several components to polycystic kidney disease treatment. Treatments for this condition include:
One of the most important parts of polycystic kidney disease is keeping blood pressure under control. Many treatments focus on the crucial management of a patient’s blood pressure.
Severe cases of polycystic kidney disease can cause renal failure. Dialysis or a kidney transplant can treat the advanced stages of this condition.
The Food and Drug Administration approved a drug called tolvaptan in 2018. This drug is a treatment option for ADPKD, and it helps slow down kidney decline. However, a side effect of tolvaptan is severe liver damage. Polycystic kidney disease already affects the liver, so it is imperative that a doctor closely monitors a patient’s reaction to the drug.
Many people who have polycystic kidney disease join support groups to cope with the diagnosis. If someone does not feel comfortable joining a support group, there are a plethora of online resources available through kidney disease organizations.
A dietician can help people with polycystic kidney disease manage their diet. A balanced diet can lower blood pressure and take some pressure off the kidneys by balancing sodium and electrolyte levels.
People with polycystic kidney disease who want to have children could consider meeting with a genetic counselor. This meeting can help people figure out the likelihood of their child developing polycystic kidney disease.
Anyone who is experiencing symptoms of polycystic kidney disease should see a doctor. Proper treatment for this condition requires a care plan. A doctor can help patients suffering from symptoms of polycystic kidney disease find relief.
The severity of polycystic kidney disease varies from person to person. Polycystic kidney disease typically gets worse over time. Approximately 50% of people with polycystic kidney disease will have kidney failure by age 60. That percentage rises to 60% by age 70. A proper care plan can manage polycystic kidney disease. The oversight of a knowledgeable care team is imperative to that plan’s success.