Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited disease of your mucus and sweat glands. It affects mostly your lungs, pancreas, liver, intestines, sinuses, and sex organs.
Normally, mucus is watery. It keeps the linings of certain organs moist and prevents them from drying out or getting infected. But in CF, an abnormal gene causes mucus to become thick and sticky. Other people have more mild disease that doesn't show up until they are adolescents or young adults. CF is caused by a mutation in a gene called the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR). Respiratory failure is the most dangerous consequence of cystic fibrosis. Also, the secretions block pancreatic enzymes that help digest fats and proteins, and they prevent your body from absorbing key vitamins. Treatments for cystic fibrosis are aimed at relieving symptoms and complications.
Causes of Cystic Fibrosis
CF is an inherited disease, which means that it's passed down from parent to child. Someone who has CF was born with it. Maybe you've heard someone say, "It's in your genes." They don't mean your blue jean pants. Genes make up the blueprint each of your cells follows to make you a unique individual.
Genes determine your eye and hair color and also are responsible for certain health problems.
Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis
People with CF can have a variety of symptoms, including:
* very salty-tasting skin;
* persistent coughing, at times with phlegm;
* frequent lung infections;
* wheezing or shortness of breath
Treatment of Cystic Fibrosis
Newborns with meconium ileus typically require surgery, whereas adults with distal intestinal obstruction syndrome typically do not. Treatment of pancreatic insufficiency by replacement of missing digestive enzymes allows the duodenum to properly absorb nutrients and vitamins that would otherwise be lost in the feces. Even so, most individuals with CF take additional amounts of vitamins A, D, E, and K and eat high-calorie meals. It should be noted, however, that nutritional advice given to patients is, at best, mixed.
For digestive problems, a person with CF can take enzymes by mouth in order to help digest food and get nutrients from it. A doctor may also prescribe vitamin supplements and a high-calorie diet.
Can it be prevented?
As yet there's no cure for CF or any way of preventing it. However, since the faulty gene has been identified, much work and research is being done to try to find ways to either repair or replace this gene through gene therapy.
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