Cystic fibrosis is a condition affecting the lungs and digestive system. Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening genetic disorder that affects the cells producing mucus, digestive juices, and sweat. In this genetic disorder, a defective gene makes the secreted fluid thick and sticky instead of its normal thin and slippery consistency. In this genetic disorder, mutations form in the CFTR gene.
The formation of this abnormal protein due to cystic fibrosis changes the salt and water balance in the body by altering the way chloride is moved in and out of cells. Blood tests can help diagnose this genetic disorder. Apart from this, several other tests can help to detect cystic fibrosis.
Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis
Symptoms vary based on the severity of this genetic disorder. Symptoms of this genetic disorder can be mild or severe. These symptoms may either worsen or improve over time. For some patients, symptoms may appear during infancy. In other cases, no symptoms may appear until adulthood. In newborns, this genetic disorder is diagnosed within the first months before the symptoms develop. Signs and symptoms of this genetic disorder affect the respiratory or digestive systems. Patients should contact their doctor if any symptoms occur.
Some symptoms associated with this genetic disorder affecting the respiratory system are as follows:
- Persistent cough
- Repeated lung infections
- Decreased ability to exercise
- Inflamed nasal passages
Some symptoms that affect the digestive system are listed below:
- Poor weight gain and growth
- Greasy stools
- Foul-smelling stools
- Severe constipation
- Frequent straining
- Intestinal blockage
Treatment of Cystic Fibrosis
Though there is no cure for cystic fibrosis, treatment is available to reduce the severity of symptoms. Treatment can also prevent further infection and reduce long-term damage to the body. Some treatment options are mentioned below:
Medicines can be an effective treatment of this genetic disorder. Antibiotics can treat lung infections. Oral pancreatic enzymes, bronchodilators, mucus-thinning drugs, and oral pancreatic enzymes are also helpful to reduce symptoms.
Gene therapy is an effective treatment that can correct the defective cells. However, this treatment option is still under research and clinical study.
Lung transplant is a treatment that can help patients of cystic fibrosis. A transplant can replace a defective organ. However, this treatment method has associated risks of immunosuppression due to medicines that may need to be taken to prevent organ rejection.
Chest physical therapy involves breathing techniques to loosen the mucus and open the airways. Several devices can be used for this therapy.
Regular exercise can be useful for the treatment of cystic fibrosis. Exercise helps in loosening the viscous secretions. It is also beneficial in maintaining the health of the heart and lungs.
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