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Cystic Fibrosis symptoms & treatment

An inherited condition, Cystic fibrosis (CF) affects various organs in the body. Worst affected are usually the lungs and digestive system, both of which can become clogged with a sticky mucus which makes it difficult to breathe and affects digestion.

Cystic fibrosis affects over 7,500 people in the UK, reducing life expectancy to an average of around 31 years. This is principally due to the effects upon the lungs and digestive system.

In the lungs of someone with CF, a thick and sticky mucus accumulates, increasing the risk of bacterial infections and pneumonia. CF also affects the digestive system by reducing the production of key digestive enzymes in the pancreas. Without these enzymes, the body cannot digest fat properly, and as a result it is difficult to gain weight.

Other problems include:

  • Polyps (small growths) in the nose
  • Diabetes
  • Male infertility in men
  • Fertility problems in women
Cystic fibrosis is an inherited condition, with many cases diagnosed at birth. Alternatively, diagnosis may occur during infancy when poor growth or failure to gain weight can alert doctors to a potential problem.

As there is currently no cure for CF, treatments work to control the symptoms, primarily by improving nutrition, and reducing chest infections through physiotherapy and antibiotics.