Some conditions or disorders are inherited rather than acquired from infected people. Many of these genetic conditions can be more dangerous than infectious diseases. One of the most common ones is cystic fibrosis, an inherited illness that causes severe damage to the digestive system, lungs and other parts of the body. It distresses the cells that produce digestive juices, mucus and sweat. Cystic fibrosis is a sudden condition and is quite discomforting, so it’s important to have enough knowledge about the causes, symptoms and treatments to get rid of it. If you want to know more, give this article a read.
What is Cystic Fibrosis?
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Cystic fibrosis is actually an autosomal hereditary disorder which commonly affects the lungs. However, it may also have secondary effects on other parts of the organ system, including the liver, intestines and pancreas. As stated above, the condition affects the cells that produce mucus, digestive juices and sweat. All of these secreted juices are usually slippery and thin, but if you have cystic fibrosis, there will be a defective gene that may cause the fluid to be thick and sticky. These fluids then plug up passageways, ducts, and tubes, rather than acting as a lubricant. This especially affects the pancreas and lungs.
Cystic fibrosis can lead to life-threatening problems, including malnutrition, respiratory failure and various infections. It is critical to seek treatment immediately, as early diagnosis and treatment can vastly improve the sufferer’s quality of life and anticipated lifespan. Even though people with cystic fibrosis need daily care, they may still lead a fairly normal life. Screening tests and treatments have vastly improved over the past few years, and many people with cystic fibrosis may now live into their 40s and even in their 50s.
Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis
The symptoms of cystic fibrosis are dependent on the patient and the severity of the condition. The age at which the person develops symptoms can also play a role. Indications may appear during infancy, but for other children signs may not show until puberty or even later in life. As time passes, these symptoms may get worse or get better. Other symptoms of cystic fibrosis may result from complications of the following:
- Glandular organs
The abnormal mucus may clog the channels which carry the enzymes produced by the pancreas and small intestine. Being deprived of these digestive enzymes makes it hard for the intestine to absorb nutrients from food. This may result in:
- Delayed growth in children
- Weight gain
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen abdomen
- Greasy and foul-smelling stool
The sticky and thick mucus associated with the condition clogs the airways that carry air in and out of the lungs. This may cause:
- Stuffy sinuses
- Stuffy nose
- Recurrent lung infections
- Shortness of the breath
- A persistent cough which produces phlegm or thick mucus
Causes of Cystic Fibrosis
This condition occurs as the result of a certain gene known as the CFT gene. The CFT gene controls the movement of water and salt in body’s cells. When there is a sudden change or mutation in the gene, it causes the mucus to become stickier and thicker than its natural form. This mucus buildup affects the lungs, liver, pancreas and intestines. It may also increase the quantity of salt in the sweat.
Treatments for Cystic Fibrosis
There are no clear treatments for cystic fibrosis, but there are some treatments to help relieve the symptoms and reduce the risk of any complications.
- A lung transplant may be beneficial as it removes the damaged lung an replaces it with a much healthier one.
- Because the condition may affect digestion and may prevent the absorption of essential nutrients, a feeding tube can be used to help supply nutrition.
- Bowel surgery is an emergency surgery wherein a section of the bowel is amputated.
- Bronchodilators may help relax the muscles around the tubes that carry air into the lungs. This helps increase airflow.
- Mucus-thinning medications can help return the mucus to its natural state or encourage the sufferer to cough up excess mucus and clear out their lungs.
- Antibiotics are the most prescribed treatments for cystic fibrosis. These help get rid of the infection and prevent other infections from occurring.
With proper care, attention and treatments, it is possible to ease cystic fibrosis.