CF is a genetic disorder that causes the lungs to become damaged by mucus. When an individual has CF, their immune system sends white blood cells to fight the infection. These white blood cells break down, clogging the airways. The debris they leave behind is harmful to lung tissue. This mucus is also sticky, which makes it harder to clear from the lungs. This cycle of infection and immune response can cause irreversible damage to the lungs.
When a patient has CF, their pancreas can become inefficient. The pancreas is a small organ located behind the stomach and is responsible for secreting enzymes and hormones that help break down food and digest sugar. If the disease impedes the pancreatic function, mucous can prevent the pancreatic enzymes from working properly and nutrient absorption. This malabsorption can lead to a variety of nutritional deficiencies, including deficiencies in calcium and iron. A person with CF may also be overweight or fail to grow.
A person with CF must manage this disease throughout their life. Obtaining a diagnosis and treatment early is crucial, as the sooner a patient can begin treatment, the better. With the help of a healthcare team, patients can find out more about their disease and the available treatments and resources. Research on cystic fibrosis is ongoing and is striving for a better outcome for patients. The condition is a devastating diagnosis that requires ongoing monitoring.