What Is Cystic Fibrosis?

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cf_new3.qxd 2/21/96 3:14 PM FACTS Page 1 ABOUT Cystic Fibrosis What Is Cystic Fibrosis Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a chronic, progressive, and frequently fatal genetic (inherited) disease of the body’s mucus glands. CF primarily affects the respiratory and digestive systems in children and young adults. The sweat glands and the reproductive system are also usually involved. On the average, individuals with CF have a lifespan of approximately 30 years. CF-like disease has been known for over two centuries. The name, cystic fibrosis of the pancreas, was first applied to the disease in 1938. How Common Is CF? According to the data collected by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, there are about 30,000 Americans, 3,000…show more content…
Also, about 1 in every 20 Americans is an unaffected carrier of an abnormal “CF gene.” These 12 million people are usually unaware that they are carriers. N A T I O N A L N A T I O N A L What Are the Signs and Symptoms of CF? CF does not follow the same pattern in all patients but affects different people in different ways and to varying degrees. However, the basic problem is the same— an abnormality in the glands, which produce or secrete sweat and mucus. Sweat cools the body; mucus lubricates the respiratory, digestive, and reproductive systems, and prevents tissues from drying out, protecting them from infection. People with CF lose excessive amounts of salt when they sweat. This can upset the balance of minerals in the blood, which may cause abnormal heart rhythms. Going into shock is also a risk. Mucus in CF patients is very thick and accumulates in the intestines and lungs. The result is malnutrition, poor growth, frequent respiratory infections, breathing difficulties, and eventually permanent lung damage. Lung disease is the usual cause of death in most patients. CF can cause various other medical problems. These include sinusitis…show more content…
Educational programs and materials suitable for both patients of various ages and their parents are available from local CF centers and from local chapters of the CF Foundation. Patients and their families and friends should know that: CF parents should not feel guilty or responsible for causing their child’s disease; they could not have prevented it. s Parents should treat their children with CF as normally as possible. They shouldn’t be over-protective but should encourage them to be active and self-reliant. s Family and friends should remember that CF is not contagious; nobody can get it from a patient. s In families with CF, brothers, sisters, and first cousins of the CF patient should be tested to see if they carry a defective gene, especially if they seem to have a chronic lung or digestive problem. Carriers of the abnormal gene should get genetic counseling. s Individuals with CF have normal sexual development and can expect to have a normal sex life. However, most, but not all, men are infertile because of a mechanical blockage of sperm and cannot have children. Women with CF can have children,

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