Polycystic kidney disease (PKD), a disorder that runs in families, causes multiple cysts to grow inside the patient's kidneys. The kidneys, twin organs which filter waste materials and excess fluids out of the blood stream and expel them to the bladder as urine, are about the size of fists and lie in the upper abdomen towards the back. Kidneys also keep various important substances healthfully balanced in the body overall. PKD cysts, which are filled with fluid, can drastically interfere with these important functions because they can grow and replace normal kidney tissue. The result can be kidney failure.
Kidney failure caused by PKD makes dialysis or kidney transplants necessary. Usually this type of failure develops after PKD has been present for many years. Of those who have the commonest type of the disease, about half suffer kidney failure, which is also called end-stage renal disease (ESRD).
Other parts of the body can develop cysts because of PKD: the liver, blood vessels in the heart and the brain. While "simple" cysts, which are normally harmless, can form in the kidneys of older people, it's the greater number of cysts and the complications that arise from them that allow a PKD diagnosis.
Approximately 600,000 Americans have PKD. It is the fourth commonest cause of ESRD. There are two principal inherited forms of the disease, autosomal dominant PKD and autosomal recessive PKD.
Autosomal dominant PKD is the inherited form most commonly found, accounting for about 90% of all PKD. Its symptoms tend to show up between ages 30 and 40, although they can appear much earlier.
Much rarer is autosomal recessive PKD, which shows symptoms in infancy, or even before birth.
Special diet concerns for people with polycystic kidney disease
Diet is a crucial component in the management of this ailment. Polycystic kidney disease patients who have advanced loss of kidney function will probably need to carefully limit some kinds of food and completely eliminate others. Their kidneys aren't able to process waste materials including sodium, protein, potassium, and phosphorus.
General diet restrictions in polycystic kidney disease
Abnormal kidney function like that caused by PKD causes the waste products left over from metabolizing food (blood urea nitrogen) to accumulate in the blood. The purpose of dialysis is to filter these substances from the patient's bloodstream, reducing them to normal levels for a time, and then must be repeated when they build up again. Patients on dialysis, or those who have reduced kidney function, have to be particularly careful to follow a diet designed for their condition. Usually the diet will restrict the total calories consumed, protein intake, fluids, sodium, phosphorus and potassium, and calcium supplements are often needed. Sodium regulation is particularly important.
Sodium is one of the elements that controls fluid balances in the body, and one of the most important for a polycystic kidney disease diet to control. It is, of course, extremely common, either as table salt (sodium chloride) or as a component -- natural or an additive -- of most foods, and too much of it causes the body to retain too much water. The results can be: sudden weight gain, swollen joints and tissues, shortness of breath, elevated blood pressure, even congestive heart failure. Foods high in sodium include: salt-topped snacks like nuts and chips, processed and smoked meats, many prepared and canned foods, and many sauces.
Many persons with kidney disease must limit their daily dietary sodium to 2 grams or less.
Supplements for the polycystic kidney disease diet
For PKD patients, taking both vitamin and mineral supplements can be extremely important. The restrictions typical of a polycystic kidney disease diet plan may well prevent the user from getting enough nutrients, and the right balance of nutrients, from food alone. Moreover, dialysis removes vitamins from the bloodstream along with accumulated waste products.
Researching the right diet for polycystic kidney disease
If you have PKD, you're already aware that it's a condition that has to be taken seriously and managed with care. Formulating the right diet plan is a major part of that careful management. You'll find that excellent information about PKD diet plans is available. The right polycystic kidney disease diet may not be a cure for this condition, but it will make you feel better, improve your overall health, and help to keep further food-generated kidney damage to a minimum.
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