Cystic fibrosis (CF) affects the lungs and digestive system. It is caused by a defective gene that causes the body to produce thick, sticky mucus.
This mucus clogs the airways in the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. It also blocks the passage of food from the stomach to the small intestine, causing malnutrition and weight loss.
What is cystic fibrosis?
Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system. It is caused by a defective gene that causes the body to produce thick, sticky mucus. People with CF are born with it and have it for life. There is currently no cure, but treatments can help people with CF live longer and healthier lives.
What causes cystic fibrosis?
Cystic fibrosis is caused by a mutation in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene. This gene controls the movement of salt and water in and out of cells. In people with CF, the mutation causes the CFTR protein to not work properly. This leads to a build-up of mucus in the lungs and digestive system.
What are the symptoms of cystic fibrosis?
The symptoms of CF vary from person to person and can range from mild to severe. The most common symptoms are:
- Trouble breathing
- Coughing up mucus
- Frequent lung infections
- Poor growth
- Weight loss
How is cystic fibrosis diagnosed?
CF is usually diagnosed at birth or in early childhood. A doctor may suspect CF if a baby has meconium ileus, which is when the meconium (the baby’s first stool) is thick and sticky and blocks the intestines. A doctor may also suspect CF if a child has persistent respiratory problems or poor growth.
To confirm the diagnosis, a doctor will order a sweat test and a genetic test. The sweat test measures the level of salt in the sweat. People with CF have higher-than-normal levels of salt in their sweat. The genetic test looks for the mutation in the CFTR gene.
What are the treatments for cystic fibrosis?
There is currently no cure for CF, but there are treatments that can help people with the disease live longer and healthier lives. The most common treatments are:
- Medications to thin the mucus and help clear it from the lungs
- Antibiotics to prevent and treat lung infections
- Vitamins and supplements to help with malnutrition
- Chest physical therapy to help clear mucus from the lungs
- Lung transplants
How does cystic fibrosis affect the lungs?
CF affects the lungs by causing a build-up of mucus. This can lead to lung infections and difficulty breathing. Over time, the lungs can become damaged and may not work properly.
How does cystic fibrosis affect the digestive system?
CF affects the digestive system by causing a build-up of mucus in the intestines. This can block the intestines and prevent the absorption of nutrients from food. People with CF may also have trouble digesting fats and proteins.
What is the life expectancy for someone with cystic fibrosis?
The life expectancy for someone with CF has increased in recent years. The average life expectancy is now about 40 years. However, this varies from person to person and depends on the severity of the disease.
How can I prevent cystic fibrosis?
There is currently no way to prevent CF. However, if you have CF, some treatments can help you live a longer and healthier life.
If you or someone you know has CF, there are many resources available to help. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) is the leading organization in the United States dedicated to finding a cure for CF. The CFF provides information and support for people with CF and their families.