Uncovering Kidney Disease: Polycystic Kidney Disease

September 14, 2016

Uncovering Kidney Disease - Polycystic Kidney DiseasePolycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) is a genetic disorder passed down from parent to child that has the potential of causing devastating health problems. The National Kidney Foundation states that PKD is the fourth leading cause of kidney failure, projecting that about 600,000 people in the United States have been diagnosed with it.

We at Grassroots Health are passionate about raising awareness of chronic diseases that affect Americans. That being said, we will dedicate weekly material over the next two months for highlighting many types of common kidney diseases and their health risks. Today we begin our series by discussing one of the main causes of kidney disorder: Polycystic Kidney Disease.

The Kidneys

In order to get a better understanding of how this chronic disease affects the kidneys, let us recap: The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs who find their home in the lower back just below the ribcage. These organs are responsible for filtering close to “200 quarts of blood each day, generating about 2 quarts of excess fluid, salts, and waste products that are excreted as urine.” (2) Figuratively speaking, the kidneys resemble a trash-removal service for the body. In a scenario where their function shuts down or even slows, waste begins to build up. If this occurs and persists, it has the potential of becoming life-threatening.

The Effects of Polycystic Kidney Disease

As mentioned above, PKD is a genetic disease, inherited from parent to child, that causes multiple cysts to develop and  grow inside the kidneys. There are two types:

  1. Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (ADPKD)

  2. Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease (ARPKD)

“If too many cysts grow or if they get too big, the kidneys can become damaged. PKD cysts can slowly replace much of the kidneys, reducing kidney function and leading to kidney failure.” (1)

The Inevitable Health Risks

The main health risk of PKD is kidney failure. “If your kidneys fail, you need treatment to replace the work they normally do. The treatment options are dialysis or a kidney transplant. Each treatment has benefits and drawbacks. No matter which treatment you choose, you'll need to make some changes in your life, including how you eat and plan your activities. But with the help of healthcare providers, family, and friends, most people with kidney failure can lead full and active lives.” (3)

Unfortunately, PKD has the potential of affecting more than just the kidneys. “People with PKD may have cysts in their liver, pancreas, spleen, ovaries, and large bowel. Cysts in these organs usually do not cause serious problems, but can in some people. PKD can also affect the brain or heart. If PKD affects the brain, it can cause an aneurysm. An aneurysm is a bulging blood vessel that can burst, resulting in a stroke or even death. If PKD affects the heart, the valves can become floppy, resulting in a heart murmur in some patients.” (1)

Affordable Healthcare Solutions

Your medical provider can test for kidney disease by measuring kidney function with certain blood tests and urine tests. If you have been diagnosed with any form of kidney disease we recommend that you follow up with your physician as often as they request so that they can monitor your conditions and work to prevent a life-threatening situation from occurring. If you are uninsured or have health insurance that you cannot afford, there are still some affordable healthcare options available.

Grassroots Labs is a company that we partner with in the mission of creating healthcare options that are affordable, convenient and efficient for everyone. On their website, they have created an online laboratory test store where individuals can browse a large variety of lab tests that are significantly discounted from the traditional mark-up rates that you find at hospitals and doctors offices. Included in their store is an affordable lab test panel for kidney function. Their online store also features affordable panels and individual affordable lab tests used for diagnosing and managing other chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, and liver disease. These are just a few examples of the many tests they provide for managing chronic diseases and for meeting a wide variety of healthcare needs. For a full biography of Grassroots Labs click here.

We cannot stress enough the importance of regularly monitoring overall health; which is why we strive to make this possible by finding innovative solutions to healthcare, such as telemedicine, that make it more affordable for people to access. In addition, by partnering with like-minded companies such as Grassroots Labs we are able to bridge the gaps between healthcare services by making them valuable to everyone. Stay tuned, next week we will continue in this series on kidney disease by discussing Congenital Kidney Disorders.


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Image Credit


1. National Kidney Foundation

2. National Kidney Foundation - Glomerulonephritis

3. U. S. National Library of Medicine - Kidney Failure


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The mission of the CHC Blog is to provide educational content on topics of health care and community benefit which is informative, valuable, and inspiring to our members, patients, and the community at large. 

Shelby Morgan - Editor / Author

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