September 3rd is #PKDAwarenessDay!

Hi everyone! I know today is barely Wednesday but you know what that means? We’re halfway through the week! Not to mention, tomorrow is #PKDAwarenessDay! What exactly is PKD, you ask? Well, that’s the whole point of this post! Sit back, relax, and let me tell you about PKD.

Etiology/Causes of Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)

PKD stands for polycystic kidney disease. It is a genetic disorder in which certain chromosomes are mutated. These genetic abnormalities cause clusters of cysts to develop within your kidneys. The cysts are fluid-filled sacs that can damage the kidneys if they become too big. Reduced kidney function can lead to kidney failure.

Incidence and Prevalence Rates

According to Health Communities, PKD affects about 600,000 Americans and 12 million worldwide. PKD is the most frequently inherited disease and is the fourth leading cause of kidney failure. It equally affects men and women of all races.

Risk Factors

PKD is an inherited disease passed on from parent to child. If one parent has autosomal dominant PKD, their child has a 50% chance of inheriting the disease. If both parents have autosomal recessive PKD, their child will have a 25% chance of inheriting the disease. If only one parent carries the recessive gene, their child will not inherit PKD.

Signs and Symptoms

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, signs and symptoms of PKD include back pain, side pain, headaches, and hematuria (blood in the urine). Complications of PKD can include pain, brain aneurysms, abnormal heart valves, high blood pressure, UTIs (urinary tract infections), liver cysts, pancreatic cysts, kidney stones, and kidney failure.

Diagnosis

There are different ways to diagnose whether or not you have PKD. Since PKD is a genetic disease, it would be best to review your family history and medical history. Lab tests such as complete blood counts and urinalysis can be used to diagnose PKD. Imaging tests such as ultrasounds, CT scans, and MRIs can also be used to diagnose PKD.

Treatment & Prevention

Depending on the symptoms, PKD can be treated through lifestyle changes, different medications, and dialysis. Although PKD is treatable, it is not preventable due to its genetic factors. To slow the progress of PKD, 30 minutes of daily exercise is suggested. You should also try to lower your blood pressure and avoid foods containing phosphorous and potassium.

Walk for PKD 2013. Photo taken from my aunt's Facebook.
Walk for PKD 2013. Photo taken from my aunt’s Facebook.

#PKDAwarenessDay

So why am I writing about this? Two years ago, I lost my grandmother to PKD. It’s a genetic disorder. If my mom inherited it, I might have it. During the last few years of my grandma’s life, I constantly saw her in and out of the hospital. She went through dialysis three days a week. With PKD came more complications and I’d have to take her to various doctor appointments. She was on different meds and blood thinners. It’s heart-wrenching to see a loved one in so much pain and I don’t want to see anyone else go through this.

For the last few years, my family and I have taken part in the PKD Foundation’s Walk for PKD. The purpose is to raise awareness of PKD. More funding and research needs to be done in order to find a cure for PKD. If this post hits home for you, please sign up to participate or donate to the PKD Foundation. If you found this informative, please like and subscribe for more health-related posts. Have a lovely day, everyone!

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Valerie Nguyen

Valerie. 26. California girl with insatiable wanderlust. BS in Public Health with a concentration in Community Health. Bookkeeper by day, fangirl by night. Shameless foodie and retail therapist.

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