Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is a genetic disorder that doesn't always show signs right away but can put you at risk for severe kidney damage. If you have a family history of PKD, you need to understand the significant symptoms associated with the disease. The sooner it’s diagnosed, the better your outcome.
At Metro Renal Associates in Washington, DC, and Capitol Heights, Maryland, our team has expertise in everything that involves your kidneys. If you're concerned about PKD, Dr. Kevin Griffiths, Dr. Cosette Jamieson, and Dr. Oyije Susannah Iheagwara offer compassionate care and specialized treatment options.
What is PKD?
Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is a genetic disorder that causes your kidneys to grow a large number of cysts. These cysts make your kidneys larger and change their overall shape.
PKD is a type of chronic kidney disease. When left untreated, it affects your kidney function and may lead to kidney failure later.
The cysts are typically not cancerous and vary significantly in size. The more cysts on your kidneys or the larger they are, the more damage your kidney sustains.
When the damage from PKD becomes severe, you may need renal dialysis or, in more severe cases, a kidney transplant.
That’s why it’s important to know what to look for when it comes to PKD. Knowing the signs and symptoms prevents further complications.
Six significant symptoms of PKD
You don't always have outward signs or symptoms when you have PKD. You can go years without knowing you have this condition.
However, there are some telltale symptoms that you should be aware of, especially if you're at risk for this disease or have a family history. Six of the main symptoms include:
1. High blood pressure
PKD may lead to high blood pressure, which in turn continues to damage your kidneys. High blood pressure is the number one sign of PKD. Our team often finds this during a routine exam.
2. Back or flank pain
If you have frequent flank pain or back discomfort, you could have PKD. This condition causes your kidneys to enlarge, which often causes pain.
3. Blood in your urine
Blood in your urine is another sign of PKD. It can also be a symptom of a urinary tract infection or bladder infection. Anytime you see blood in your urine, it’s important to seek help from our team.
4. Frequent UTIs or bladder infections
Suppose your kidneys aren't working correctly due to PKD. In that case, you could suffer from frequent urinary tract infections or bladder infections. Pain with urination or more frequent urination may signal a problem.
5. Larger than the normal abdomen
As your kidneys grow from PKD, you may notice that your belly looks larger than average. You should contact our team today if you notice swelling around your waist that doesn't go away.
Headaches with PKD may be a sign of high blood pressure, which is the number one symptom of PKD. If you're experiencing chronic headaches that you don't usually have along with other PKD symptoms, it’s important to check your blood pressure.
When to see our team
If you're not feeling like yourself and have any signs of PKD, talk to our doctors. The earlier you seek treatment for PKD, the less risk you have of dangerous complications.
Sometimes, PKD symptoms don't show up until you've had the disease for some time. See our team immediately if you're exhibiting any of the above symptoms or if you have a family history of PKD.
Our team can help you make some changes in your life to slow down the progression of PKD. When you seek help early on, our team recommends lifestyle changes such as:
- Reducing stress
- Losing excess weight
- Getting plenty of sleep
- Quitting smoking
- Getting regular exercise
With these changes, you may be able to significantly slow down the progression of PKD and prevent kidney failure. When you need expert care for PKD, don't hesitate to call one of our offices today. You can also send the team a message using our convenient online tool.