Polycystic kidney disease

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is an inherited disorder in which clusters of cysts develop primarily within your kidneys. Cysts are noncancerous round sacs containing water-like fluid. The cysts vary in size and, as they accumulate more fluid, they can grow very large.

Although kidneys usually are the most severely affected organs, polycystic kidney disease can cause cysts to develop in your liver and elsewhere in your body. The disease causes a variety of serious complications.

A common complication of polycystic kidney disease is high blood pressure. Kidney failure is another common problem for people with polycystic kidney disease.

Polycystic kidney disease varies greatly in its severity, and some complications are preventable. Lifestyle changes and medical treatments may help reduce damage to your kidneys from complications, such as high blood pressure.

Symptoms Causes Complications Prevention

Polycystic kidney disease symptoms may include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Back or side pain
  • Headache
  • Increase in the size of your abdomen
  • Blood in your urine
  • Frequent urination
  • Kidney stones
  • Kidney failure
  • Urinary tract or kidney infections

When to see a doctor

It's not uncommon for people to have polycystic kidney disease for years without developing signs or symptoms and without knowing they have the disease.

If you have some of the signs and symptoms of polycystic kidney disease, see your doctor to determine what might be causing them. If you have a first-degree relative — parent, sibling or child — with polycystic kidney disease, see your doctor to discuss the pros and cons of screening for this disorder.

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