Polycystic Kidney Disease: Understanding the Silent Killer


Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is a genetic disorder that causes cysts to form in the kidneys. These cysts can grow and damage the kidneys over time, leading to kidney failure. PKD is the most common inherited kidney disease, affecting over 600,000 people in the United States.

There are two main types of PKD: autosomal dominant PKD (ADPKD) and autosomal recessive PKD (ARPKD). ADPKD is the more common type, affecting about 1 in 500 people. ARPKD is a more severe form of PKD that affects about 1 in 20,000 to 40,000 people.

PKD is a silent killer because it often does not cause any symptoms until the kidneys are severely damaged. By the time people develop symptoms, such as high blood pressure, back pain, and blood in the urine, they may already be in kidney failure.

There is no cure for PKD, but there are treatments that can help slow the progression of the disease and manage the symptoms. Treatment options include blood pressure medication, pain relievers, and dialysis or kidney transplantation for people in kidney failure.

If you have a family history of PKD, it is important to talk to your doctor about getting tested. Early diagnosis and treatment can help improve your quality of life and extend your life expectancy.

Here are some things you can do to help manage PKD and live a healthy life:

  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Control your blood pressure.
  • Take your medications as prescribed by your doctor.
  • See your doctor regularly for checkups.

If you have PKD, it is important to remember that you are not alone. There are many resources available to help you and your family cope with the disease.

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