Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a chronic, progressive, life limiting genetic disease that affects about 30,000 people in the United States. An altered gene causes cells to produce mucus that is thicker and stickier, resulting in blocked ducts which affects the function of certain organ systems.
- Respiratory: Lungs and sinuses; the lungs are especially affected causing infection and inflammation, leading to cough and difficulty breathing.
- Digestive: Pancreas; ducts become blocked and do not allow digestive enzymes to reach the intestine resulting in poor growth. Diabetes may also develop. The liver, gall bladder and intestine may also be affected.
- Sweat Glands: Excessive sweat and "salty taste".
- Reproductive: Sperm ducts become blocked and most males are infertile. Women may also be affected.
There is no cure for CF. Current median life expectancy for someone with CF is 36.8 years. However, new therapies and treatments are constantly improving life expectancy and quality of life. In fact, 40 percent of people with CF are adults who lead busy, productive lives.
Cystic fibrosis is a complex chronic illness that requires care in a center that specializes in CF.