Polycystic Kidney Disease

What Is It?

Polycystic kidney disease causes numerous cysts (non-cancerous growths) to form in both kidneys. It is a genetic disease, meaning you inherit it from your parents. About 600,000 Americans have polycystic kidney disease.

The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs that sit in the upper part of the abdomen. They filter wastes and extra fluid from the blood, which get passed out of the body in the form of urine. The kidneys also regulate the amount of certain vital substances in the body, such as electrolytes.

When polycystic kidney disease causes numerous cysts to form in the kidneys, the kidneys get severely enlarged, and the cysts also take the place of normal kidney tissue. With less normal kidney tissue, the kidneys cannot function as well, and eventually the kidneys may fail. Cysts normally form in the kidneys as people age, but with polycystic kidney disease there are many more cysts than normal, and they cause problems in the body.

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