Treatment Options for Polycystic Kidney Disease

Polycystic Kidney Disease, also known as PKD, refers to an inherited disorder that involves clusters of cysts primarily building in your kidneys, causing the kidneys to enlarge and impairing their functions. Cysts are fluid-filled, benign, round sacs.  Cysts vary in their size and may grow large. Many or large cysts will likely interfere with how your kidneys function.

Polycystic kidney diseases can lead to cyst development in liver or elsewhere in your body. It can cause various and serious complications such as, hypertension and kidney failure.


  • Hypertension
  • Blood in urine
  • Chronic back or side pain
  • Headaches
  • Increased periphery around abdomen
  • Lack of appetite
  • Kidney stones
  • Kidney failure
  • Kidney or urinary tract infections

When to Consult a Doctor

Some people with polycystic kidney disease are asymptomatic and so are unaware of having the disease. If you experience any symptoms of PKD, immediately consult a nephrologist. If any of your first-degree relatives – parent, sibling or child – has PKD, consult your doctor for regular screening.


Certain tests can accurately detect the number and size of kidney cysts. These tests also evaluate the volume of tissues in your kidney. These tests are as follows:

  • USG
  • CT Scan
  • MRI Scan

Polycystic Kidney Disease Treatment

More often, people in the age group of 55-65 years progress to the end-stage of polycystic kidney disorder. Some people with polycystic kidney disease experience mild symptoms and might never reach the end-stage of the disorder.

Treatments for PKD involve symptomatic treatment and address the underlying causes if patients are diagnosed in the early stages.


Controlling hypertension can slow disease progression and kidney damage. Low-fat and low-sodium diet with moderate calorie and protein content is highly recommended for the PKD patients. Adopting a healthy lifestyle, which focuses on ‘No Smoking’, regular exercises and stress management, helps you control high BP.

Kidney Cyst Growth

Tolvaptan (Jynarque, Samsca) is a usual recommendation for the adults at a high risk of aggressive ADPKD that progresses very quickly. It is an oral pill that slows the rate of cyst growth in your kidney and the decline in kidney functioning.

Tolvaptan often causes serious liver injury and can interfere with other medicines you are taking. It’s highly recommended to consult a nephrologist so that your kidney health is regularly monitored for possible side effects.

Poor Kidney Function

Maintaining a healthy weight is a good way to prevent many serious physical disorders including PKD. Drink plenty of water and fluids as these help delay the growth of kidney cysts and thus, prevent further kidney damage and declining kidney function. Eating diet low on protein and sodium may let your kidney cysts respond better to increased fluid intake.

Kidney or Bladder Infections

Using antibiotics is a common way of treating infection in order to prevent kidney diseases. Your nephrologist will examine if you are suffering from a simple bladder infection, a more complicated kidney infection or cyst problem. You need to continue with a longer course of antibiotics for more complicated infections.

Blood in Urine

You should drink plenty of fluids, preferable plain water as an immediate, home-based remedy for blood in urine. It’s a way to dilute urine and prevent obstructive clots from developing in your urinary tract. Most of the times, bleeding usually stops on its own. But if the problem persists, consult your doctor immediately.


More people rely on over-the-counter drugs containing acetaminophen to relieve pain of PKD. However, it always makes sense to contact a doctor. In most cases, pain lingers and feels excruciating. Your doctor will likely to recommend using a needle to draw out fluids from cyst and injecting a sclerosing agent to shrink cysts. If the cysts grow large and cause severe pain, you may have to go under the knife for cyst removal.

Kidney Failure

If your kidneys fail to remove extra fluids and waste products from your blood, you might have to go for dialysis or kidney transplant. Only a doctor, based on the reports of regular check-up for PKD,will tell if and when you need a kidney transplant. A preemptive kidney transplant is recommended for some PKD patients, which implies that they can go for the transplant without having to undergo dialysis.


For anyone with PKD and a family history of intracranial (ruptured brain) aneurysms, the doctor will probably suggest regular screening IA. If you are diagnosed with an aneurysm, surgical treatment is a usual recommendation to cut the risk of bleeding. However, the ultimate decision is subject to the size of aneurysm.

For small aneurysms, non-surgical alternatives such as, controlling high BP and high blood cholesterol, are a more preferred mode of treatment. Smokers need to quit smoking as lifestyle changes also play a role in delaying kidney damages.

Final Words

When it comes to PKD, the degree of severity varies greatly from person to person. Some complications of PKD are preventable. A healthy lifestyle and proper treatment might reduce and reverse kidney damages from PKD complications.