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Polycystic kidney disease is a condition characterized by abnormal cyst growth in the kidneys. When treating this condition, it is important to take a comprehensive look at both the condition itself and the patient’s general health when crafting a treatment plan to ensure that the patient’s total well-being is considered.
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This condition results from abnormal genes. It is rare for the gene mutation to develop spontaneously, so polycystic kidney disease generally runs in families. There are two primary types. The first is the autosomal dominant type. While children can develop this one, it is usually diagnosed when patients are between 30 and 40 years of age. To pass this type on, only one parent has to carry the gene mutation. This type accounts for about 90 percent of cases.
The second type is autosomal recessive. In most cases, symptoms start to develop not long after birth, but there are cases where it does not present until later in childhood. The gene mutation has to be present in both parents, and their children will have approximately a 25 percent chance of developing the condition.
It is possible to have this condition for years without patients realizing it. Once the symptoms do begin, it is important for patients to promptly see their doctor. This is especially important if there is a first-degree relative who has the condition. Symptoms may include:
Prior to determining the proper course of treatment, patients should be thoroughly evaluated. It is important to look at the kidneys to determine their overall health. The number and size of the cysts also needs to be determined prior to treatment. Different imaging studies are generally used for this purpose. The most common include ultrasound, MRI scans and CT scans.
Treatment is generally focused on controlling the different complications and symptoms as soon as possible. High blood pressure is common among those with this condition. Patients are generally instructed to make necessary lifestyle changes, such as increasing exercise, following a healthy diet, alleviating stress and quitting smoking if they smoke. Certain medications might also be helpful, such as angiotensin II receptor blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors.
If kidney or bladder infections occur, antibiotic therapy is generally recommended. This not only helps to clear the infection but may help to reduce the risk of kidney damage. If a patient gets to kidney failure, a transplant or dialysis could become necessary.
Pain is possible and over-the-counter medications to relieve it may be beneficial. In the most severe cases, doctors might recommend surgical removal of cysts to reduce pain.
If blood is present in the urine, patients may need to consume more fluids. This could help to dilute the urine and reduce the risk of urinary tract obstructive clots.
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