Cystic Fibrosis (CF) causes the buildup of thick, sticky mucus in the lungs, digestive tract, and other body parts. This life-threatening disorder is one of the most common chronic lung diseases among children and adults.
Causes of Cystic Fibrosis
Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic condition that is passed down through families, the root cause being the detective gene that makes the body produce a sticky fluid, called the mucus, which is abnormally thick in such cases. The buildup of this mucus can be seen in the breathing passages of the pancreas and the lungs.
In certain cases, some people carry a CF gene but do not manifest symptoms. This is because an individual with a CF has to inherit two defective genes, one from each parent. A foetus is most likely to inherit the CF gene cystic fibrosis pregnancy complications during pregnancy, giving rise to cystic fibrosis pregnancy complications.
Some children with the defective gene are diagnosed by the age of 2, while others are not before 18. In the latter case, individuals have a milder form of the medical condition. If symptoms get detected during childhood, the individual is likely to experience long-term complications of cystic fibrosis.
Possible Symptoms Of Cystic Fibrosis
Symptoms In Newborns
- Delayed growth
- Salty-tasting skin
- Inability to gain weight normally during childhood
- Lack of bowel movements in the first 24 to 48 hours of life
Symptoms Related To Bowel Function
- Belly pain from a serious condition of constipation
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of weight
- Increased gas, bloating, or a belly that appears swollen
- Pale or clay-coloured, foul-smelling stools that have mucus, or that float
- Weight loss
Symptoms Related To The Lungs And Sinuses
- Coughing or increased mucus in the sinuses or lungs
- Nasal congestion caused by nasal polyps
- Repeated episodes of pneumonia
- Loss of appetite
- Sinus pain or pressure caused by infection or polyps
Symptoms That May Be Noticed Later In Life
- Clubbed fingers
- Infertility (in men)
- Respiratory problems
Cystic Fibrosis Complications
Let’s discuss some of the most common cystic fibrosis complications – most common complications of cystic fibrosis as well as not-so-common complications.
Symptoms and complications of cystic fibrosis can greatly differ based on age and type of CF mutation. For instance, the inability to pass the first stool is a condition that is observed in newborns while anxiety and depression are not common among children. Several complications do not appear till the time the individual becomes an adult, although lung infections are quite common.
By Bone Density Diseases
Arthritis or joint pain of the knees, ankles, elbows, shoulders, and wrists is far more common among adults than children who have been diagnosed with CF.
By Bone Disease
Among individuals with CF, bone diseases like osteoarthritis and osteopenia develop more among the elderly than children.
Cystic fibrosis-related diabetes complications are, to a large extent, the result of inflammation in the pancreas, which is more common among adults.
By Gastrointestinal Diseases
Distal intestinal obstructive syndrome (DIOS) and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) can be observed in individuals with CF and can develop among children and adults, both.
- Liver disease
- Loss of hearing
- Cystic fibrosis neurological complications
- Mental health
Diagnosis Of Cystic Fibrosis
Your doctor is likely to recommend medical tests based on the symptoms you’ve described. The tests aim to look for changes in the CF gene. These tests are as below:
- The Immunoreactive Trypsinogen (IRT) test is a standard screening test for newborns. If the results of the test are way higher than the limit, the doctor may recommend other tests.
- The Sweat Chloride Test evaluates the level of salt content in a person’s sweat to analyse the presence of CF. A high salt level is a sign of a medical condition.
Other tests that can be recommended by your doctor are as below:
- Chest x-ray or CT scan
- Faecal fat test
- Lung function tests
- Measurement of pancreatic function (stool pancreatic elastase)
- Secretin stimulation test
- Trypsin and chymotrypsin in stool
- Upper GI and small bowel series
- Lung cultures
Treatment For Cystic Fibrosis
An early diagnosis of the medical condition is essential to improve the chances of survival as well as the quality of life. The treatment of the condition depends on the symptoms and complications that the individual experiences. The treatment options depend on the part of the body that has been affected.
For Lung Problems:
- Antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent and treat sinus and lung infections. They need to be taken every day or when needed, as prescribed by the doctor. They may be taken orally or maybe intravenous, or administered through breathing treatments.
- Oxygen therapy may be recommended if the lung disease deteriorates.
- A lung transplant may be recommended when it is the only way out to treat the medical condition.
- Certain devices that help clear large quantities of mucus through the airways may be prescribed.
- Exercises or activities that help in breathing deeply may be recommended.
- Manual chest percussion may be administered by a family member or a therapist for lightly clapping the individual’s back, chest, or area below the arms.
For Problems With Bowel Movements & Nutritional Problems
- Pancreatic enzymes can be prescribed for taking after every meal to help absorb protein and fats.
- A diet that is rich in protein and calories for older children and adults.
- Vitamin supplements for vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Home Remedies For Cystic Fibrosis
- Stay away from smoking and other sources of smoke, fumes, dirt, fireplaces, etc.
- Hydrate with plenty of fluids, especially children and infants during hot and humid weather conditions, with problems of diarrhoea, or during physically strenuous activities.
- Follow a fitness routine at least 2 to 3 times a week with any form of exercise that interests you.
- Stay away from individuals who have been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis because the condition is contagious.
The life-threatening condition of cystic fibrosis develops among newborns as well as adults. It is necessary to consult a doctor whenever one experiences the possible symptoms of the medical condition, so it can be diagnosed and treated at the early stages. That usually helps in improving the effectiveness of treatment, keeping the symptoms of the condition under check and also maintaining the quality of life.
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