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The general perception that hereditary diseases cannot be prevented is changing. Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is one such hereditary condition. The kidneys are the body's detox machine, which remove all impurities and flush it out of the system through urine. PKD is a condition where there are multiple, fluid-filled cysts which develop in the kidneys. These can vary in size and though noncancerous, can grow to a very large extent, producing severe symptoms including extremely high blood pressures and kidney failure.
In the recent past, however, there have been various theories that put forth how a modified and healthy lifestyle can prevent PKD. A child with a parent who suffers from PKD has 50% likelihood to develop the same. That cannot be prevented; however, changes can be made which can delay the onset and reduce the severity of symptoms of PKD, most notably high blood pressure and kidney failure which may require lifelong dialysis.
Symptoms and complications: The most common symptoms include high blood pressure, kidney pain (behind the back above the buttocks), infections of the kidneys or the bladder, bloody urine, kidney failure, headache, bloated abdomen due to the fluid-filled cysts, frequent urination, and kidney stones. There could be impact on pregnancy plans, with high blood pressure complicating the pregnancy. This needs extra care in management and is not life-threatening in most cases.
Prevention: The kidneys take the brunt of all the toxins that a body is subjected to. It is therefore, very important to reduce the exposure of body, especially kidneys to toxins. One of the best ways to keep the kidneys in good health is to control blood pressure.
Some of the ways to do this include:
- Following a low-sodium diet with a good amount of hydration
- Reduce fat in the diet as much as possible
- Include a lot of berries, broccoli and apples
- Be diligent in taking your blood pressure medications as directed
- Ensure that your weight is within the prescribed limits for you
- Quit smoking and drinking
- At least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity should be included in your daily regimen
Read up on symptoms of PKD and keep an eye on them. If you are having a bloated feeling or pain in the kidneys or blood in the urine, consult a doctor. If you are planning on having a baby, genetic counseling may be useful to see if there is a risk of passing on the genes to the baby. Keep a positive outlook and have a frank discussion with family and friends on your overall condition. So, as much as PKD is a hereditary disease, there are ways to manage it and improve the quality of life. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a nephrologist.