Treatment

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

  • High blood pressure. Controlling high blood pressure can 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 or angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) are often used to control high blood pressure.

  • Pain. You might be able to control the pain of polycystic kidney disease with over-the-counter medications containing acetaminophen. For some people, however, the pain is more severe and constant. In rare cases, your doctor might recommend surgery to remove cysts if they're large enough to cause pressure and pain.
  • 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, preferably plain water, as soon as you notice blood in your urine to dilute the urine. Dilution might help prevent obstructive clots from forming in your urinary tract.
  • Kidney failure. If your kidneys lose their ability to remove waste products and extra fluids from your blood, you'll eventually need either dialysis or a kidney transplant.
  • 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.