If you have signs and symptoms of polycystic kidney disease, you're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. However, you may then be referred to a doctor who specializes in kidney health (nephrologist).
Because appointments can be brief, and there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared. Here's some information to help you get ready, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Write down symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins and supplements that you're taking.
- Ask a family member or friend to come along. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all of the information provided to you during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time together. For polycystic kidney disease, some basic questions to ask include:
- What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- Are there other possible causes for my symptoms?
- What kinds of tests do I need? Do these tests require any special preparation?
- Is this condition temporary or long lasting?
- What treatments are available, and which do you recommend?
- What types of side effects can I expect from treatment?
- I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Do I need to follow any dietary restrictions? What about activity restrictions?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing me?
- What's the appropriate level for my blood pressure? What can I do to help bring it down?
- Besides kidney cysts, what other complications might I have?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask additional questions that come up during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
Nov. 18, 2011
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- Does anything seem to improve or worsen your symptoms?
- Does anyone in your family have a history of polycystic kidney disease or other kidney disease?
- Do you know your average blood pressure values?
- Has your kidney function been measured?
- Polycystic kidney disease. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/pdf/PKD.pdf/. Accessed May 19, 2011.
- Polycystic kidney disease. Kidney Foundation. http://www.kidney.org/atoz/pdf/polycystic.pdf . Accessed May 19, 2011.
- Gaurel L. Renal cystic disease. Ultrasound Clinics. 2010;5:15.
- Grantham JJ. Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease. New England Journal of Medicine. 2008;359:1477.
- Salant DJ, et al. Polycystic kidney disease and other inherited tubular disorders. In: Fauci AS, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Medical; 2008. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=2874530. Accessed May 19, 2011.
- Chanda R, et al. Hypertension in patients with chronic kidney disease. Current Hypertension Reports. 2009;11:329.
- Your guide to lowering high blood pressure. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/hbp/index.html. Accessed May 21, 2011.