Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disease that affects children and young adults. CF mainly affects the digestive system and lungs and the severity of this differs from person to person.
Cystic fibrosis signs and symptoms vary, depending on the severity of the disease. Even in the same person, symptoms may worsen or improve as time passes. Some people may not experience symptoms until adolescence or adulthood.
People with cystic fibrosis have a higher than normal level of salt in their sweat. Parents often can taste the salt when they kiss their children. Most of the other signs and symptoms of cystic fibrosis affect the respiratory system and digestive system. However, adults diagnosed with cystic fibrosis are more likely to have atypical symptoms, such as recurring bouts of inflamed pancreas (pancreatitis), infertility and recurrent pneumonia.
Respiratory signs and symptoms:
The thick and sticky mucus associated with cystic fibrosis clogs the tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs. This can cause signs and symptoms such as:
A persistent cough that produces thick mucus (sputum):
Repeated lung infections
Inflamed nasal passages or a stuffy nose
Digestive signs and symptoms
The thick mucus can also block tubes that carry digestive enzymes from your pancreas to your small intestine. Without these digestive enzymes, your intestines aren’t able to completely absorb the nutrients in the food you eat. The result is often:
Foul-smelling, greasy stools.
Poor weight gain and growth.
Intestinal blockage, particularly in newborns (meconium ileum).
Frequent straining while passing stool can cause part of the rectum — the end of the large intestine — to protrude outside the anus (rectal prolapse). When this occurs in children, it may be a sign of cystic fibrosis. Parents should consult a physician knowledgeable about cystic fibrosis. Rectal prolapse in children may sometimes require surgery. Rectal prolapse in children with cystic fibrosis is less common than it was in the past, which may be due to earlier testing, diagnosis, and treatment of cystic fibrosis.
When to see a doctor:
If you or your child has symptoms of cystic fibrosis — or if someone in your family has cystic fibrosis — talk with your doctor about testing for the disease.
Seek immediate medical care if you or your child has difficulty breathing.
Content courtesy the Mayo Clinic website.