What Is CF?

Cystic fibrosis is a progressive, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time.

In people with CF, a defective gene causes a thick, sticky buildup of mucus in the lungs, pancreas, and other organs. In the lungs, the mucus clogs the airways and traps bacteria leading to infections, extensive lung damage, and eventually, respiratory failure. In the pancreas, the mucus prevents the release of digestive enzymes that allow the body to break down food and absorb vital nutrients.

Symptoms of CF

People with CF can have a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Very salty-tasting skin
  • Persistent coughing, at times with phlegm
  • Frequent lung infections including pneumonia or bronchitis
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Poor growth or weight gain in spite of a good appetite
  • Frequent greasy, bulky stools or difficulty with bowel movements
  • Male infertility
These symptoms are amongst the most common but can vary in severity throughout different CF patients. These symptoms can also change and come about as time progresses.

Dehydration is another risk factor of Cystic Fibrosis. Due to the skin being saltier it causes the body to end up losing much more water than the amount normally lost through sweating. Therefore it is extremely important to drink more water each day if you have Cystic Fibrosis.

Arthritis and joint problems are another side effect of Cystic Fibrosis. Due to weakening of the bone structure over time, osteoporosis can develop as well.

Patients with Cystic Fibrosis are at higher risk for liver disease. The mucus from this disease causes blockages in bile ducts and inflammation which affects the functions of the liver. Diabetes is all common in patients with Cystic Fibrosis as they get older due to the damage of the pancreas causing improper function.