The kidney is a vital organ of the human body. It is responsible for the removal of waste from the bloodstream. This functionality means that the kidneys are an essential component in maintaining the body in a healthy state. However, some people have kidneys that can't function properly.


One of the types of kidney disorders is polycystic kidney disease. Polycystic kidney disease can either be inherited or acquired. Inherited polycystic kidney disease can be autosomal dominant or autosomal recessive. Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease is the more common type. It can also be called adult polycystic kidney disease because the symptoms begin to appear between the ages of 30 and 40. The autosomal recessive disease occurs less commonly, and its symptoms appear at a younger age and can even begin at birth. Acquired polycystic kidney disease occurs in people who already suffer from a kidney disease like renal failure or repeated dialysis.


The first symptom that polycystic kidney disease patients will suffer from is a pain that occurs in the abdomen, sides, or back. It is the most common symptom. It is present in almost all patients with autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease. Patients may also suffer from tenderness in the same areas.


The difference between pain and tenderness is that tenderness is only felt when being touched. There are many causes of this pain. One of them is that one of the cysts on the kidney is becoming larger. Pain will also occur if one or more cyst starts to bleed. When the person experiences dull aching pain and starts to feel heaviness in his abdomen, that could be a sign of a polycystic liver.

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Blood in Urine

When the cysts present in the kidney start to bleed, this can be confined inside the cysts or in the urine. If it occurs in the urine, it is then called hematuria. This symptom is usually self-limiting which means that it will only last about a week and then disappear on its own. Polycystic kidney disease makes the kidney more affected by trauma. In around two-thirds of polycystic kidney disease cases, patients will suffer from bleeding. If patients experience even a mild trauma, they might start to bleed internally or externally. Internal bleeding is usually very painful.

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Frequent Urination

People affected by polycystic kidney disease will have an urge to go to the bathrooms more times than usual. On average, a person will excrete around seven cups of urine each day. If the individual starts to excrete more urine, it is called polyuria. Some people might be tempted to ignore this symptom, as they might assume that it occurs because they are drinking too much water. Unless there's an increase of the fluid intake or the person is a pregnant woman, frequent urination is not a normal condition, and the patient should visit his or her doctor to discover the underlying medical cause.

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Urinary Tract Infection

Different bacteria can infect the urinary tract. However, the most common one is called Escherichia coli. There are common symptoms of urinary tract infection; the person will start having a strong urge to urinate more times than usual. Their urine has an unnormal cloudy or bloody color. The smell of the urine may also change. The person may start to feel pain during urination or even a burning sensation. Some patients experience a feeling of nausea and increased the urge to vomit. Muscle and abdominal pains are also common symptoms of urinary tract infection.

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Kidney Stones

Due to the stasis of urine along with the possible existent infection, a crystalline material may start to form a hard kidney stone. Almost one-third of patients with autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease will suffer from kidney stones. Especially susceptible are patients who suffer from pain and blood in their urine. In polycystic kidney disease, there is usually a decrease in the levels of citrate in the urine. As a result, the stones formed in polycystic kidney disease are different than those in the general population; they are usually uric acid stones. The usual method of determining whether a person has a kidney stone or not is through performing an ultrasound. However, this can be difficult to do in polycystic kidney disease as the large cysts make it difficult to establish a diagnosis.

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A headache

Polycystic kidney disease patients usually suffer from headaches. The cause of this headache is the underlying increase in blood pressure called "hypertension." This increased blood pressure is one of the most common signs that a doctor can notice to suspect a polycystic kidney disease. This hypertension is secondary hypertension because a kidney disease causes it. Secondary hypertension progresses more rapidly than typical hypertension. It is a serious condition that may lead to kidney failure. That's why it's crucial to include the treatment of hypertension with the treatment of polycystic kidney disease.

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Fluttering or Pounding in the Chest

Around a quarter of all polycystic kidney disease, patients will experience fluttering or pounding in the chest. This symptom is caused by having what is referred to as a floppy valve of the heart. Which simply means that one of the valves of the heart stopped working properly and his flaps have become floppy and unable to close tightly to seal the space between the atrium and the ventricle. Floppy valves can also cause the patient to feel pain in his chest. This fluttering can be the first noticeable symptom of polycystic kidney disease. However, they are usually self-limiting and go away on their own.

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Skin Changes

The skin of the patient may show some changes as well, becoming paler and less radiant. The skin can become easily bruised. The patient can easily bleed. The person may also find that his nails have taken on an abnormal shape. A sense of irritation and an urge to scratch the itchy skin is also common. The explanation of this itchy skin is simple. The kidney's primary job is to remove any waste from the blood. When the kidney stops working properly, waste material will start to accumulate and cause severe itching.

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As with any chronic disease, polycystic kidney disease can cause severe tiredness. This fatigue is not like the usual tiredness we all experience sometimes. A person will feel exhausted for no reason whatsoever; without exercising or performing a demanding physical task. Chronic diseases along with infection can drain the body's energy sources and leave the patient feeling exhausted all the time. The kidneys produce a hormone that helps the formations of red blood cells. Red blood cells are the cells that deliver the oxygen to different tissues. Without enough red blood cells, the person will suffer fatigue and lethargy.

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Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea and the increased urge to vomit may be explained by the accumulation of irritating waste material and the presence of a possible urinary tract infection with E-choli or any other organism. Uremia is one of the primary harmful material that builds up in the blood and can cause the patient to have a strong urge to vomit. Uremia is one of the end products of protein metabolism inside the body. It is very toxic, and if its levels inside the body exceed a certain number, it could even be fatal.

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