Dealing With Polycystic Kidney Disease: Beyond the Basics

Nephrologist consulting with a patient on her Chronic Kidney Disease

According to the National Institute of Health, polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is one of the most common genetic disorders, affecting about 500,000 people in the United States.

PKD is a genetic disorder characterized by the growth and accumulation of cysts in the kidneys and some not-so-great news — it can cause progressive and irreversible damage, potentially leading to end-stage renal failure, if left untreated or unmanaged.

But it’s important to know more than just what it is. Here are some tips on what to know when you’re dealing with polycystic kidney disease

Living with Polycystic Kidney Disease

Living a life with PKD also means understanding and preparing for potential complications. These can include:

  • Hypertension
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Urinary tract infections
  • An increased risk of developing kidney stones

This doesn’t mean you can’t live a full and meaningful life, however. To stay on top of your health, maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating nutritious food, staying active with exercise, and managing stress in whatever way works best for you.

What to Know When You’re Diagnosed

When you are diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, it is important to understand the risks and benefits of available treatments. The primary goal of treatment is to slow the progression of cysts on the kidneys and preserve kidney function. This may include medications or lifestyle changes such as controlling blood pressure or reducing protein intake.

In some cases, surgery may be necessary to manage cysts. When it comes to managing polycystic kidney disease, there is no one-size-fits-all approach—it’s important to work closely with your doctor to develop a treatment plan that works for you.

Pregnancy and PKD

Being pregnant and experiencing this kidney disease comes with a unique set of risks and considerations. It is important to talk to your healthcare provider about any concerns you may have during pregnancy. Some of these include the risk of the following:

  • Preterm labor – can increase the risk of premature labor
  • Preeclampsia – a complication of pregnancy that can cause high blood pressure
  • Placental abruption – can increase the risk of this condition, which is when the placenta separates from the uterus
  • Polyhydramnios – an excess of amniotic fluids
  • Increased blood pressure during pregnancy

Women with this disease should also be aware of the potential risks to their baby. These may include low birth weight or being born with PKD. And as always, consulting with your healthcare provider can help you make the best decisions for both you and your baby’s health.

Are There Treatments Available?

Handling PKD can be a challenge, but with the right treatments and lifestyle changes, it is possible to manage this condition and live a healthy life. 

Your doctor will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that can include anything from medications to lifestyle changes such as dietary modifications or increased exercise, and in some cases, surgery.

It is important to understand the risks and benefits of any potential treatments prior to beginning them. Additionally, your doctor may recommend other treatments to help manage any complications that arise from this kidney disease, such as hypertension or chronic pain. 

How Texas Kidney Institute Can Help You

At Texas Kidney Institute, we provide comprehensive care for PKD and its associated conditions. Our team of experts can help you develop a personalized treatment plan that takes into account your individual needs and goals. We are dedicated to providing quality, evidence-based care.

If you are living with polycystic kidney disease and would like to learn more about your treatment options, contact us today. We look forward to working with you!