Cystic fibrosis

What is cystic fibrosis?

Cystic fibrosis is a disease in which the lungs collapse with thick, sticky mucus, the gastrointestinal tract and other areas of the body. It is one of the most common chronic lung diseases in adults and children. It is classified as a life-threatening disease.

This type of disease affects the lungs, pancreas, liver, intestines, sinuses and sexual organs. Cystic fibrosis causes the mucus to be thick and sticky. The mucus in question clogs the lungs, causing recurrent lung infections and lung damage.

Cystic fibrosis blocks the airways with thick, sticky mucus.

Symptoms of cystic fibrosis

Symptoms of cystic fibrosis can occur throughout a person’s life. A few symptoms may become more and more severe until they reach maximum severity. It should be noted that each individual may vary their symptoms as well as the potency of the disease.

  • Symptoms in newborns: Delayed growth.
  • Symptoms in bowel function: pain caused by constipation, bloated abdominal area due to gas, nausea, pale or clay-colored stools with mucus, weight loss.
  • Symptoms related to lungs and sinuses: Cough, increased mucus, fatigue, nasal congestion, episodes of pneumonia, sinus pain.
  • Later symptoms: infertility in men, inflammation of the pancreas, respiratory symptoms and malformation of the fingers.

What are the causes of cystic fibrosis?

Cystic fibrosis is caused by a defective gene that causes the body to produce a thick sticky fluid. This mucous substance blocks the airways of the lungs and pancreas, and begins to cause infections. This problem can lead to very serious lung infections and acute digestive problems. The sweat glands and the male reproductive system are other areas that may be affected. There are individuals who carry the gene but do not manifest any symptoms. This is explained as follows: A person with Cystic Fibrosis must inherit 2 defective genes. Therefore, if he/she has only one, this disease will not manifest itself. The people in whom it most frequently reproduces are descendants of central and northern Europeans.

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Can it be prevented?

This disease cannot be prevented, as it is a hereditary disease with no cure. However, it is possible to follow a treatment that will be explained below, to improve the quality of life during the disease. A genetic study in parents who are carriers of the defective gene that causes this disease is the only way to “prevent” cystic fibrosis. This would serve to detect the disease, since, as previously mentioned, there is no cure.

What does the treatment consist of?

The keys to achieve a good treatment of cystic fibrosis are a diagnosis to detect the disease and a good treatment plan to improve the resistance to the disease, as well as the quality of life. Whenever possible, patients should be treated by clinics specialized in cystic fibrosis. The treatments available to combat cystic fibrosis are the following:

  • Antibiotics to prevent sinus and lung infections and treat them in turn.
  • Inhaled medications to help decongest the airways.
  • Medications to thin the mucus and make it easier to cough it up
  • Annual vaccinations
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Lung transplantation