Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Treating polycystic kidney disease involves dealing with the following signs, symptoms and complications in their early stages:

  • High blood pressure. Controlling high blood pressure may delay the progression of the disease and slow further kidney damage. Combining a low-sodium, low-fat diet that's moderate in protein and calorie content with not smoking, increasing exercise and reducing stress may help control high blood pressure.

    However, medications are usually needed to control high blood pressure. Medications called angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors may be used to control high blood pressure in people with polycystic kidney disease, though more than one drug may be necessary for good blood pressure control.

  • Pain. Chronic pain, usually located in your back or your side, is a common symptom of polycystic kidney disease. Often, the pain is mild and you can control it with over-the-counter medications containing acetaminophen.

    For some people, however, the pain is more severe and constant. In rare cases, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove cysts if they're large enough to cause pressure and pain.

  • Complications of cysts. Rarely, when kidney cysts cause severe pain, obstruct other organs or blood vessels, are infected, or impact your ability to receive a kidney transplant, you may need surgery to drain the cysts.
  • Bladder or kidney infections. Prompt treatment of infections with antibiotics is necessary to prevent kidney damage.
  • Blood in the urine. You'll need to drink lots of fluids as soon as you notice blood in your urine, in order to dilute the urine. Dilution may help prevent obstructive clots from forming in your urinary tract. Bed rest also may help decrease the bleeding.
  • Kidney failure. If your kidneys lose their ability to remove wastes and extra fluids from your blood, you'll eventually need either dialysis or a kidney transplant.
  • Liver cysts. As a conservative approach for treating liver cysts, your doctor may recommend that you avoid hormone therapy. In rare cases, treatment of liver cysts includes draining symptomatic cysts if there aren't too many, surgery to remove part of your liver or even liver transplantation.
  • Aneurysms. If you have polycystic kidney disease and a family history of ruptured brain (intracranial) aneurysms, your doctor may recommend regular screening for intracranial aneurysms.

    If an aneurysm is discovered, surgical clipping of the aneurysm to reduce the risk of bleeding may be an option, depending on its size. Nonsurgical treatment of small aneurysms may involve controlling high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol, as well as quitting smoking.

Jun. 14, 2014

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