Polycystic Kidney Disease: Causes, Types, Symptoms And How To Prevent

Posted On Jan 16, 2023

4 Min Read

Department of Nephrology

Manipal Hospitals

Best Kidney Hospitals in Bangalore

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is a genetic disorder that causes a build-up of several fluid-filled cysts in the kidneys. Unlike harmless kidney cysts that can occur in the kidneys later in life, PKD cysts can alter the shape of the kidneys and make them much bigger. PKD is a chronic kidney disease that affects kidney function and may eventually lead to kidney failure. 

In addition, PKD can cause other complications, such as issues with blood vessels in the heart and brain, high blood pressure, and cysts in the liver. Moreover, PKD can damage the kidneys if the cysts filled with fluid get too large. 

According to Dr. Sanjeev Rohatgi, Lead Consultant- Liver Transplant & HPB Surgery, Manipal Hospital Whitefield, Bangalore, PKD occurs almost equally in both men and women. However, the growth of liver cysts is usually more rampant in women due to the influence of hormones (estrogen), the use of oral contraceptives, and fertility issues, which consequently makes them more symptomatic when they become affected with PKD. 

What Causes Polycystic Kidney Disease?

PKD is primarily caused due to a gene mutation or defect. Experts have found that children receive gene mutation from a parent in most cases. However, in some PKD cases, the gene mutation occurred on its own with either parent not carrying copies of the mutated gene. For diagnosis and treatment, please consult a top nephrologist in Bangalore

What are the Types of PKD?

There are multiple forms of PKD, such as, 

  • Autosomal Dominant PKD (ADPKD)

This type of PKD is generally passed from parent to child by dominant inheritance. Simply put, this disorder occurs when only one copy of the abnormal gene is passed from a parent to the child. Although symptoms are generally noticed between the ages of 30 and 40, they have been found to occur earlier (in children) in some cases. Research has revealed that around 90% of all PKD cases are ADPKD.

  • Acquired Cystic Kidney Disease (ACKD) 

Since ACKD generally occurs in the kidneys and causes long-term damage and severe scarring, it is commonly associated with dialysis and kidney failure. One of the most common symptoms of ACKD is blood in the urine due to the bleeding of the cysts into the urinary system. 

  • Infantile or Autosomal Recessive PKD

This type of disorder is passed from parent to child via recessive inheritance. Symptoms usually tend to be serious, progress rapidly, and generally begin in the womb during the earliest months of life.

What are the Signs & Symptoms of PKD?

People with PKD generally don't experience any symptoms unless they are in the age group of 30-40 years. Moreover, around 25% of the patients diagnosed with PKD have a floppy valve in the heart. Thus, they may experience pounding or fluttering in the chest along with pain. Although the symptoms do not cause any significant discomfort and generally go away on their own, they are usually the first sign of someone having PKD.

High blood pressure is another common symptom of PKD. Occasionally, some patients may experience headaches due to high blood pressure. The other commonly observed symptoms of PKD are:

  • Side or back pain.

  • Blood in the urine.

  • Pounding or fluttering in the chest.

  • Frequent kidney or bladder infections.

  • A sharp surge in the size of the abdomen.

Is There Any Treatment Available for PKD?

Presently, there is no treatment or cure for PKD. Recent studies have revealed that drinking plain water throughout the day and not consuming caffeine can slow the growth of cysts. Besides, studies have also found that many supportive treatments can be performed for controlling the symptoms, slowing down the development of cysts, and mitigating the risk of kidney failure. These supportive treatments include:

  • Consuming lots of fluid when blood in the urine is observed initially.

  • Keeping blood pressure under control.

  • Getting prompt treatment for kidney or bladder infection (with antibiotics).

  • Taking medications to control pain.

  • Following a healthy lifestyle – consuming a nutritious diet, reducing salt intake, quitting smoking, keeping body weight under control, and getting regular exercise.

If you are having any symptoms of PKD, look for the best kidney hospitals in Bangalore and get it checked without further delay.

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