By: Nikki Nies
Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is an inherited chronic disorder of the secretory glands that impacts approximately 30,000 American lungs and digestive system. Although, continuous care is crucial for CF patients, they can still carry out daily activities, such as work and school.
- Salt Tasting Skin
- Persistent coughing
- Shortness of breath
- Frequent lung infections
- Poor growth and/or weight gain
- Bulky, greasy stools/difficult bowel movements
Signs and symptoms vary person to person and the severity of the symptoms can come and go. For parents with infants, one of the first signs of CF may be salty skin when kissing the baby or the inability to pass stool. Symptoms that appear will be directly related to how CF is responding to the reproductive, respiratory and/or digestive systems.
All states screen for CF at birth using a genetic or blood test. If these tests suggest CF, a sweat test will follow to confirm the diagnosis. A chest x ray, sinus x ray, lung function test or a sputum culture test.
Recent research has progressed the quality of life for those with CF although there’s no definitive cure. Depending on the severity of CF, patients may be treated as in patients or outpatients. Often times, there’s a team of physical therapists, CF specialists, social workers and dietitians helping families through the treatment.
The main sources of treatment are medications (i.e. antibiotics, bronchodilators), chest physical therapy (CPT) and exercise. Through self care and specific lifestyle changes (i.e. quitting smoking, wash hands often to avoid infection and doing chest x ray physical therapy as recommended).