Cystic fibrosis is a lifelong condition caused by a genetic mutation. It primarily affects the lungs and digestive system. The genetic defect that causes CF triggers the production of excess mucus. As a result, the body suffers from chronic lung infections, which can be fatal. This overproduction of mucus can also make it difficult for the body to properly digest food.
Tens of thousands of Americans suffer from CF. In over 70 percent of cases, the disease is identifiable by age two. According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, current treatments and new medical innovations are helping people with CF to live longer than ever before. Compared to decades past, the estimated age of survival is now in the early 40s.
Symptoms and treatment for Cystic fibrosis
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the most common symptoms include salty-tasting skin (this may be evident when kissing a baby with CF), not passing stool after first being born, a nagging cough, difficulty breathing and greasy stool. There is currently no cure for CF, so treatment is more focused on managing symptoms and improving quality of life. This includes clearing the lungs of excess mucus to prevent life-threatening lung infections. Antibiotics may also be used to treat and prevent infections.
Other non-medical devices, like vests, can also be used to help breakup mucus. Pulmonary rehabilitation is another effective treatment option. This approach helps teach strategies and techniques to improve breathing. In extreme cases, a lung transplant or bowel surgery may be necessary. Other surgeries aim to remove excess mucus from the lungs.
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