Understanding Polycystic Kidney Disease: Causes, Risk Factors, Diet, And Diagnosis


New Delhi: Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) is a genetic disorder that affects the kidneys, causing the formation of numerous cysts within the organ. This over time, causes the kidneys to expand and become less functional. Cysts are spherical, liquid-filled, non-cancerous sacs, which can get very big and come in different sizes. Your kidneys can suffer if you have numerous cysts or huge cysts.

Cysts can also form in your liver and other parts of your body as a result of polycystic kidney disease. Additionally, high blood pressure and kidney failure are only two of the significant problems the illness can bring on. The severity of PKD varies widely, and some side effects are curable. 

To understand more about the disease, ABP Live sought the opinion of experts in the field who gave details about the causes, risk factors, diagnosis and diet that needs to be followed in case of PKD.

Causes of Polycystic Kidney Disease:

In this regard, Dr. Sujit Chatterjee – CEO, of Dr LH Hiranandani Hospital, Powai, Mumbai said, “Polycystic Kidney Disease is primarily caused by genetic mutations inherited from parents. There are two types of PKD- Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (ADPKD) and Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease (ARPKD).”

“ADPKD, the most common form, occurs due to mutations in either the PKD1 or PKD2 genes. These genes provide instructions for the production of proteins involved in maintaining the structure of kidney cells. Mutations in these genes result in the formation of cysts in the kidneys while ARPKD is a rarer form of PKD that manifests in infancy or early childhood. It is caused by mutations in the PKHD1 gene, which leads to the development of cysts in the kidneys and other organs.”, he further added.

Signs And Symptoms of Polycystic Kidney Disease:

Polycystic kidney disease symptoms can include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Back or side pain
  • Blood in your urine
  • A feeling of fullness in your abdomen
  • Increased size of your abdomen due to enlarged kidneys
  • Headaches
  • Kidney stones
  • Kidney failure
  • Urinary tract or kidney infections

Additionally, signs and symptoms of ADPKD often develop between the ages of 30 and 40. 

Risk Factors of Polycystic Kidney Disease:

Dr. Chatterjee told that since PKD is primarily a genetic disorder, the main risk factor is having a family history of the condition. If one or both parents have PKD, there is an increased likelihood of inheriting the disease. However, it is important to note that PKD can also occur spontaneously in individuals without a family history due to new gene mutations.

Diagnosis of Polycystic Kidney Disease:

If PKD is suspected based on symptoms or family history, several diagnostic tests can confirm the issue.

Imaging tests: Ultrasound is commonly used to visualize the kidneys and detect the presence of cysts. Other imaging techniques like CT Scans or MRI may be utilized for a more detailed evaluation.

Genetic testing: DNA analysis can identify mutations in the PKD genes and determine the specific type of PKD present.

Kidney function tests: Blood and urine tests are performed to assess kidney function, detect abnormalities, and monitor disease progression.

Dr Sharmila Thukral, Consultant Nephrology at RN Tagore Hospital, Kolkata said, “If a person is diagnosed with it, they should take prompt and proper measures to control their blood pressure, as hypertension can accelerate the progression of the disease. Maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding smoking and alcohol, and eating a low-sodium diet can also help slow the progression of the disease. Some medications can slow the progress of the disease.”

“There can be various complications like urinary infections, stones and rupture of cysts. In severe cases, renal failure develops and dialysis or kidney transplant may be necessary. Additionally, there can be potentially serious problems like bleeding in the brain caused by a bulge in the wall of the blood vessel (aneurysm )”, she further went on to add.

Dietary Recommendations for Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)

The disease occurs equally in both men and women and usually presents in individuals between the ages of 30 and 50. However, there have also been cases of children as young as two years old with PKD. For individuals with the issue, a healthy diet is essential to slow the disease from aggravating. 

In this regard, Dr. Prashant Jain, Sr. Consultant & Head of Department – General Urology & Andrology, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre, New Delhi, said, “A diet low in sodium, protein, and phosphorous can help reduce the strain on the kidneys. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins will definitely be beneficial. Also, avoiding processed foods, high-fat meats, and sugary drinks is also important. Moreover, regular exercise is another important component of managing PKD. Not only does exercise promote overall health, but it can also help control blood pressure and reduce stress, which can be fruitful for individuals with Polycystic kidney disease.”

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