Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that causes thick mucus in the lungs and other organs. The mucus clogs the airways and traps bacteria, causing lung infections as well as causing digestive problems. In addition to these issues, there are several other medical conditions that people with cystic fibrosis (CF) may experience throughout their lifetime.
The most common symptoms for people with cystic fibrosis are:
- Frequent lung infections. The lungs of people with cystic fibrosis produce mucus thicker than normal, making it more difficult to clear bacteria and other germs from the airways. This can lead to repeated bouts of pneumonia requiring hospitalization or antibiotic treatment to prevent serious complications like infection in the bloodstream (sepsis) or pancreas inflammation (pancreatitis).
- Mucus in the stools. As bacteria travel through your digestive tract, they produce waste products that you pass through your anus as stool–but if you have CF, there will also be some mucus present along with this stool because of how much CF patients’ lungs and intestines produce extra mucus.
Complications of Cystic Fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that causes thick mucus in your lungs and digestive tract. This leads to problems with digestion, breathing, and other bodily functions. People with cystic fibrosis often have severe lung infections, which can be life-threatening.
People with cystic fibrosis also have an increased risk of pancreatic cancer and diabetes mellitus type 1 (“juvenile diabetes”).
Lung infections are a common complication of cystic fibrosis. The lungs are where you breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, so it’s important to get treatment immediately when your lungs become infected.
Lung infections can be caused by bacteria (such as staphylococcus or Pseudomonas), viruses (like rhinovirus), or fungi (such as Aspergillus). These microorganisms can infect the airways in different ways–some cause direct damage to the tissue lining the airway walls. In contrast, others trigger a response from your immune system that leads to inflammation and swelling of those tissues. Either way, this results in thick mucus production, which blocks off parts of your airways, making it harder for you to breathe properly; this condition is known as bronchiectasis when it affects large sections of your lungs’ passageways but becomes more difficult if there are small areas affected too because those regions will struggle even more due to decreased airflow through them over time due both chronic inflammation plus increased bacterial growth due to poor drainage efficiency caused by blockage elsewhere along your respiratory tract line-up!
Cardiomyopathy is a deterioration of the heart muscle that can lead to heart failure. Pericarditis is an inflammation of the pericardium, the sac around your heart. Congestive heart failure occurs when fluid buildup prevents proper blood flow through your lungs and other organs, causing symptoms such as shortness of breath and fatigue. Coronary artery disease refers to plaque buildup in arteries leading from your heart; this can cause chest pain if it affects coronary arteries that supply oxygenated blood to parts of your body (like arms or legs). Atherosclerosis happens when cholesterol builds up on artery walls over time; this leads to the hardening or narrowing of those vessels, which may eventually lead to blockages and rupture.
Diabetes is a serious medical illness that requires ongoing care. Diabetes can be controlled with medication and lifestyle changes.
Diabetes can be a complication of cystic fibrosis, meaning that people with this genetic disorder are at a raised risk of developing the disease. People with diabetes should work closely with their healthcare providers to manage their blood sugar levels, prevent complications (such as eye disease), monitor symptoms, and keep up with any treatments their doctors prescribe.
Cystic fibrosis can cause eye problems that include:
- Glaucoma. This occurs when there’s an increase in pressure inside the eye, which can damage the optic nerve and lead to vision loss.
- Cataracts (clouding of the lens). These develop slowly over time and can make it difficult for you to see clearly. They may also affect your color perception if they occur in both eyes at once or if only one develops cataracts while the other doesn’t yet have them. In most cases, surgery is needed to remove cataracts so you can see better again; however, some people choose not to do this procedure because it carries risks such as infection or bleeding into the brain cavity behind their eyeballs. If this happens during surgery, they could lose their sight permanently!
- Dry eye syndrome (DES). DES causes chronic irritation of your eyes’ tear glands, so they don’t produce enough tears for lubrication. You might feel like something’s stuck in there when blinking isn’t enough anymore!
Many medical issues can affect people with cystic fibrosis.
Many medical issues can affect people with cystic fibrosis. Some of the most common include:
- Gastrointestinal problems. People with cystic fibrosis have difficulty digesting food and absorbing nutrients from their gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This results in diarrhea, which may be frequent or infrequent; poor growth; loss of weight; abdominal pain or discomfort; nausea and vomiting; gas pains; bloating after eating; poor appetite due to nausea or other reasons. Treatment options include dietary changes (for example, limiting high-fat foods), medications such as antibiotics or pancreatic enzymes (to help break down food), nutritional supplements such as Ensure or Boost Plus drinks that provide extra calories and vitamins/minerals through a straw, so they’re easy to drink even when you aren’t feeling well enough to eat normally yet not too rich for someone who’s sick all day long either…
The best way to prevent CF is to get regular checkups and vaccinations and avoid people who have the virus.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you don’t have access to clean water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol (for example, Purell).
- Avoid sharing food and drinks with others. If you do share, don’t put your mouth on the container being passed around; instead, use a spoon or straw if needed.
The following are also important:
- Know your family history of cystic fibrosis because this can help inform whether you must get screened as well as any future treatment options available should tests come back positive for CFTR mutations or other conditions associated with CFTR deficiency such as primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD)
The best way to prevent cystic fibrosis is by getting tested for it and ensuring everyone in your family knows their results. If you have cystic fibrosis, you can take special care of yourself by following a strict diet and taking medications as prescribed by your doctor.
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