Cystic fibrosis is a serious genetic condition that has widespread effects on the body but primarily severely impairs the lungs and digestive system. Nearly 1000 people in the U.S. get a cystic fibrosis diagnosis and require life-long treatment and care on a daily basis. Early detection and continuous treatment are vital to prolong the patient’s life as well as improve the quality of life.
Cystic fibrosis damages the capacity of the cells that generate bodily fluids that lubricate and thicken the mucus present in the body, which obstructs passageways in the body. This obstruction results in an accumulation of thick mucus in organs, including the lungs, liver, pancreas, and intestines, which can ultimately cause serious complications such as respiratory failure, malnutrition, and infections.
Cystic Fibrosis Causes
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition and occurs due to a defective gene called cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator. However, cystic fibrosis only happens if both parents are carriers and an individual inherits a copy of the gene from each parent. While inhering only one copy from one parent does not lead to the development of cystic fibrosis, it makes the person a carrier.
Cystic Fibrosis Risks
If you are unsure as to whether your parents are cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator carriers, it may help to know that the condition is more prevalent among people of Northern European ancestry. People of all racial backgrounds have the likelihood of developing cystic fibrosis, nonetheless.
Cystic Fibrosis Symptoms
Cystic fibrosis symptoms and their severity vary person-to-person and can begin to show at any age. A primary symptom is a salty taste to the skin, which is a symptom that parents usually notice first before a visit to the doctor.
As cystic fibrosis causes the mucus produced by the body to get thicker and lead to the obstruction of the airways, the most common symptoms people with cystic fibrosis experience are a chronic cough with mucus, breathlessness accompanied by a stuffy nose and wheezing, repeated lung infections, and sinus infections.
The thickened mucus production can also affect the intestines, which is why cystic fibrosis can also cause nausea, constipation, smelly stools, swelling in the abdomen, and loss of appetite. Children and infants can also experience growth issues.
Cystic Fibrosis Treatment Options
Cystic fibrosis doesn’t have a cure. However, there are a number medications as well as the option of physical therapy.
– Mucus-thinners thin the mucus and control its sticky quality to open up the airways in the lungs.
– Antibiotics can be used to tackle infections in people with cystic fibrosis.
– Over-the-counter pain relievers like Advil and Ibuprofen can improve cystic fibrosis-related pain in the short-term.
– Bronchodilators can improve muscle tension in and around the bronchial tubes to alleviate circulation.
– People with severe cystic fibrosis may need bowel surgery, lung transplantation, or feeding tube if there is irreparable damage caused by the condition.
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