What is Cystic Fibrosis?

What Is Cystic Fibrosis?

Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening genetic disease that causes mucus to build up and clog some of the organs in the body, particularly the lungs and pancreas. When mucus clogs the lungs, it can make breathing very difficult. The thick mucus also causes bacteria (or germs) to get stuck in the airways, which causes inflammation (or swelling) and infections that lead to lung damage.
Mucus also can block the digestive tract and pancreas. The mucus stops digestive enzymes from getting to the intestines. The body needs these enzymes to break down food, which provides important nutrients to help people grow and stay healthy. People with cystic fibrosis often need to replace these enzymes with medicine they take with their meals and snacks, which helps them digest food and get proper nutrition.
    In the 1950s, few children with cystic fibrosis lived to attend elementary school. Today, advances in research and medical treatments have further enhanced and extended life for children and adults with CF. Many people with the disease can now expect to live into their 30s, 40s and beyond.
    Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis
    People with CF can have a variety of symptoms, including:
    • very salty-tasting skin;
    • persistent coughing, at times with phlegm;
    • frequent lung infections;
    • wheezing or shortness of breath;
    • poor growth/weight gain in spite of a good appetite; and
    • frequent greasy, bulky stools or difficulty in bowel movements.

    • About 1,000 new cases of cystic fibrosis are diagnosed each year.
    • More than 70% of patients are diagnosed by age two.
    • More than 45% of the CF patient population is age 18 or older.
    • The predicted median age of survival for a person with CF is in the late 30s.
    • 30,000 children and adults have CF in the United States.
    • More than 10 million Americans are symptomless carriers of the defective CF gene.
    For more info visit /www.cff.org/

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