Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is an incurable inherited disorder, mainly affecting the lungs and digestive system. In the lungs, where the effects of the disease are most devastating, CF causes increasingly severe respiratory problems. In the digestive tract, CF often results in extreme difficulty in digesting adequate nutrients from food.

Most persons with cystic fibrosis eventually die of lung disease.

It is estimated that one in every 2500 children born in Canada has CF. At the present time, approximately 3000 children, adolescents and adults with cystic fibrosis attend specialized CF clinics.

What Causes Cystic Fibrosis?

Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disease occurring when a child inherits two copies of the defective gene, one from each parent. Approximately one in every 25 Canadians is a carrier of the gene which causes CF. Since they have only one copy of the gene, these individuals do not have cystic fibrosis themselves, and can never get the disease. In most cases, they are not even aware that they are carriers, since they do not have CF or any of the symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis

  • Chromic cough producing a thick mucus
  • Excessive appetite, combined with weight loss
  • Bowel disturbances • Salty deposits on the skin
  • Repeated or prolonged bouts of pneumonia

Treatment of Cystic Fybrosis

  • Percussion and postural drainage, to help loosen the mucus which clogs the lungs
  • Pancreatic enzymes, taken with all meals to aid digestion
  • Nutritional supplements and vitamins to promote good nutritional status
  • Inhalation of aerosol medications to alleviate congestion and ward off or combat lung infection
  • Exercise

How Does Cystic Fibrosis Affect Everyday Life?

For persons with CF, life includes a daily routine of therapy and periodic visits to a CF clinic. Otherwise, most individuals with cystic fibrosis lead normal lives for many years, in terms of education, physical activity and social relationships. Eventually, however, lung disease begins to place limits on daily life.

Can Cystic Fibrosis Be Cured?

Cystic Fibrosis is an incurable disease. Comprehensive treatment programs have dramatically extended the life expectancy of persons with CF. Many affected individuals are living into their 20’s and 30’s and even beyond. However, mainly because of lung disease, children and adults who have CF face foreshortened lives.

Source:This information was made available though The Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.