What's to Know about Polycystic Kidney Disease?

What is polycystic kidney disease?

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) refers to a condition in which cysts grow in the kidneys. If the cysts are too big, or too many cysts exist in the kidneys, this will impair the kidneys. PKD cysts are filled with fluid and can replace a large part of the kidneys. If left untreated, PKD can cause damage to kidney functions and even result in kidney failure.

PKD can occur in all races and both genders, and it’s the 4th leading cause of kidney failure in the US.


What are the symptoms of PKD?

In most cases, people do not have any symptoms at a young age, and symptoms often start to appear in their 30s to 40s. The early signs may involve:

  • Back or side pain
  • Blood in the urine
  • High blood pressure
  • An increase in the size of the abdomen
  • Frequent bladder or kidney infections
  • Fluttering or pounding in the chest


Can PKD affect other organs?

Yes, it can affect other organs.

People with PKD may also have cysts in other organs, including spleen, pancreas, liver, ovaries (women), and large bowel. Generally, cysts in these organs will not lead to severe problems.

Besides, PKD may affect the brain and heart as well. If cysts grow in the brain, that may lead to aneurysms. Aneurysms may rupture and cause a stroke or even death. If cysts grow in the heart, that may lead to a heart murmur.

Keywords: polycystic kidney disease; PKD; PKD ovaries

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.