Systic Fibrosis

By: Riley Berryhill

Causes/ How the child gets it

Cystic Fibrosis is an inherited disease. Cause by a defected gene, it can only be passed down to a child if both parents possess it. If only one parent has it and the other doesn't, the child will not develop Cystic Fibrosis. However, the child will be a carrier of the gene and potentially pass in down to their children.

Symptoms/ Characteristics

Cystic Fibrosis is being screened in all 50 states. Before developing symptoms, Cystic Fibrosis can be detected in the first few months of a child's life. Also, symptoms depend on the severity of the disease. People with cystic fibrosis have a higher than normal level of salt in their sweat. Parents often can taste the salt when they kiss their children. Other symptoms include:
  • A persistent cough that produces thick (sputum) mucus
  • Wheezing
  • Breathlessness
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Repeated lung infections
  • Inflamed nasal passages or a stuffy nose

Treatment

There is no cure for Cystic Fibrosis. However, there are treatments to help alleviate some symptoms. Medications include:

  • Antibiotics to treat and prevent lung infections
  • Mucus-thinning drugs to help you cough up the mucus, which improves lung function
  • Bronchodilators to help keep your airways open by relaxing the muscles around your bronchial tubes
  • Oral pancreatic enzymes to help your digestive tract absorb nutrients

Also, chest therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation can be used to help ease the symptoms and break up the mucus in the chest. Surgeries to remove the mucus and clear the airways are also another option.

Life Expectancy

The average life expectancy for someone with Cystic Fibrosis is 37 years. However, some people with the disease can live longer or shorter than that, depending on the severity of the disease.

3 Important Facts

  • According to the data collected by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, there are about 30,000 Americans, 3,000 Canadians, and 20,000 Europeans with Cystic Fibrosis.
  • CF primarily affects the respiratory and digestive systems in children and young adults.
  • Approximately 2,500 babies are born with CF each year in the United States.
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