What is cystic fibrosis?

Cystic Fibrosis
Cystic Fibrosis
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Cystic fibrosis, is an inherited genetic disease that affects a number of organs in the body, primarily the lungs and pancreas, by clogging them with thick and sticky mucus.

According to the SA Cystic Fibrosis society, repeated infections and blockages can cause irreversible lung damage.

Mucus blocks the tiny ducts of the pancreas which supply enzymes required for digestion, and consequently food is not properly digested and nutritional value is lost in the process.

The sweat glands are also affected and the body may lose an excessive amount of salt during exercise or hot weather.

In early childhood, prominent symptoms include growth problems or frequent infections, especially of the lungs.

As the disease progresses, frequent lung infections (pneumonia) often lead to problems with breathing, lung damage, prolonged courses of antibiotics, and respiratory failure requiring support by a ventilator.

Cystic fibrosis can also lead to frequent sinus infections, diabetes mellitus, difficulty with digestion and infertility.

Symptoms include:

  • A persistent cough that produces thick mucus (sputum);
  • Wheezing;
  • Breathlessness;
  • Exercise intolerance;
  • Repeated lung infections;
  • Inflamed nasal passages or a stuffy nose;
  • Poor weight gain and growth;
  • Intestinal blockage, particularly in newborns (meconium ileus); and
  • Severe constipation

For more information visit: www.sacfa.org.za\