Polycystic Kidney Disease: Treatment

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How is polycystic kidney disease treated?

Currently, there is no actual cure for PKD itself. But there are available treatments for several of the signs and symptoms to ease it and prolong life.

 High blood pressure. Keeping blood pressure under control may delay the effects of PKD. Lifestyle changes and various medications can lower high blood pressure (hypertension). Sometimes proper diet and exercise are enough to keep blood pressure controlled. Talk with your doctor about medications to treat hypertension.

 Pain. Pain, in the area of the kidneys at the back or sides, is a common symptom of PKD. Your doctor may initially suggest over-the-counter pain medications, such as aspirin or acetamenophen. You should talk to your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medications because some of these medications may be harmful to the kidneys. Your doctor may suggest surgery to shrink the cysts if they are large enough to cause pain. However, surgery provides only temporary relief and does not slow the disease’s progression toward kidney failure.

 Urinary tract infections. People PKD tend to have frequent urinary tract infections, which can be treated with antibiotics. People with the disease should seek treatment for urinary tract infections immediately because infection can spread from the urinary tract to the cysts in the kidneys. Cyst infections are difficult to treat because many antibiotics do not penetrate

 End-stage renal disease (ESRD). PKD can cause the kidneys to fail after many years. Because kidneys are essential for life, people with ESRD must seek one of two options for replacing kidney functions: dialysis or transplantation. In hemodialysis, blood is circulated into an external filter, where it is cleaned before re-entering the body; in peritoneal dialysis, a fluid is introduced into the abdomen, where it absorbs wastes and is then removed. Transplantation of healthy kidneys into ESRD patients has become a common and successful procedure. Healthy—non-PKD—kidneys transplanted into PKD patients do not develop cysts.

Reference: National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC) (November 2007). Polycystic Kidney Disease. Web URL: http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/polycystic/. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH Publication No. 08–4008, November 2007. Retrieved June 24, 2008.

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