Do I Have Cystic Fibrosis?



Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a progressive, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time. In people with CF, the body produces unusually thick and sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections. The mucus also clogs the pancreas, preventing natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food.

Because of advances in research and medical treatments, people with CF are living longer and healthier lives. The median predicted age of survival for someone with CF born today is more than 40 years.

Do you think you or your child may have CF? 

There are many signs and symptoms of CF. They vary depending on a person’s age and severity of the disease, but some common signs and symptoms include:

• Persistent coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath

• Excessive salt intake

• Frequent lung infections

• Poor growth or weight gain in spite of a good appetite

• Infertility in men

• Passing very foul-smelling stool

If you or your child has any of these signs or symptoms, schedule an appointment with your doctor. He or she will ask about your family’s health history and give you a physical exam. If your doctor suspects CF, he or she will order a sweat test.

The sweat test is the most common test used to diagnose CF. It is a simple and painless test that measures the level of salt in your sweat. People with CF have high levels of salt in their sweat.

There is no cure for CF, but there are treatments available to help people with the disease live long

What is Cystic Fibrosis?

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States (70,000 worldwide). In the 1950s, few children with cystic fibrosis lived to attend elementary school. Today, the median survival age is about 40. 

Cystic fibrosis is caused by a defective gene that controls the movement of salt and water in and out of cells. The defective gene causes the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and obstructs the pancreas. The build-up of mucus leads to life-threatening lung infections and prevents the pancreas from sending enzymes to the intestines to help digest food.

There is no cure for cystic fibrosis, but new treatments have dramatically improved quality and length of life for people with the disease. 

Cystic fibrosis affects both males and females. In the United States, about 1 in 3,600 babies is born with CF.

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