Living With CF

Doctors diagnose most children with CF before age 2, but those with a milder form of the disease may not be diagnosed until the teen years.

Babies are usually tested if they are born with an intestinal blockage called meconium ileus, which is more common in CF infants.

What are the symptoms of cystic fibrosis?

The following are the most common symptoms for cystic fibrosis, although they may slightly differ in individual patients:

  • Abnormalities in the glands that produce sweat and mucus, and may cause a loss of salt.
    This can cause imbalance of blood minerals, abnormal heart rhythms, and, possibly, shock.
  • Thick mucus in the lungs and intestines can cause malnutrition, poor growth, frequent respiratory infections, breathing difficulties, and/or lung disease.
  • Other medical problems, such as:
    • sinusitis
    • nasal polyps
    • clubbing of fingers and toes - a condition marked by the ends of the fingers and toes become enlarged; more prevalent in the fingers.
    • pneumothorax - the presence of air or gas in the pleural cavity causing the lung to collapse.
    • hemoptysis - coughing blood.
    • cor pulmonale - enlargement of right side of heart.
    • abdominal pain
    • gas in the intestines
    • rectal prolapse
    • liver disease
    • diabetes
    • pancreatitis
    • gallstones

Infants showing the following symptoms should be tested for CF as a precaution:

  • persistent diarrhea
  • foul-smelling stools
  • frequent greasy, bulky stools or difficulty with bowel movement
  • frequent episodes of wheezing
  • frequent episodes of pneumonia
  • persistent cough
  • salty tasting skin
  • slow growth/weight gain despite healthy appetite

The symptoms of cystic fibrosis may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Consult a physician for a diagnosis.

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