Polycystic kidney disease causes many cysts (fluid-filled sacs) to develop in the kidneys. The most common type is an inherited condition called autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD). With ADPKD, problems commonly do not develop until the age of 30-50, with some people never developing any problems. The two common problems that develop are high blood pressure and kidney failure. About half of people with ADPKD develop kidney failure requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant by the age of 60.
About 50 percent of people with PKD will have kidney failure by age 60, and about 60 percent will have kidney failure by age 70. People with kidney failure will need dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Kidney (renal) failure severe enough to require dialysis or kidney transplantation is called end-stage renal disease (ESRD). ADPKD rarely leads to ESRD in early childhood; it most commonly occurs in middle age or later in life. The likelihood of requiring dialysis in people with ADPKD is estimated at less than 2 percent in people under age of 40, increasing to 50 to 75 percent by age 70 to 75. Not all patients with ADPKD develop kidney failure, particularly those with PKD2 .
At present, there is no cure for PKD. However, a lot of research is being done. Many studies suggest that some treatments may slow the rate of kidney disease in PKD, but further research is needed before these treatments can be used in patients. Other studies are helping us understand the genetic basis of PKD.
In the meantime, many supportive treatments can be done to help prevent or slow down the loss of kidney function in people with PKD and control symptoms. These include:
careful control of blood pressure
prompt treatment with antibiotics of a bladder or kidney infection
lots of fluid when blood in the urine is first noted
medication to control pain (talk to your doctor about which over-the-counter medicines are safe to take if you have kidney disease)
a healthy lifestyle with regard to smoking cessation, exercise, weight control and reduced salt intake