Unless you have had personal experience or in the medical field, you probably do not know a lot about Cystic Fibrosis. Most people who have heard of it think of it as a disease of the lungs, which is true, but it is a lot more than that.
It is a genetic disease, which means a person is born with it. It is recessive which means the person has to receive the trait from both mother and father in order to be affected. The mother and father would be carriers and likely would not know they are affected.
This gene mutation causes things to work differently in the body. There is a problem with salt and chloride transfer which causes secretions in all areas of the body to have a thicker, stickier consistency. This has the greatest, and most detrimental, effect on the respiratory system.
Mucous is regularly produced in the respiratory system but in people with CF, this mucous is harder to clear because of its thick and sludge-like consistency, making it more likely to build up in the lungs. With sticky mucous just hanging around, the airways can become inflamed and bacteria are more likely to proliferate and adhere to these sites causing chronic lung infections. The germs that cause infections in people with Cystic Fibrosis are often bigger, badder culprits and can be difficult to eradicate. That is why infection prevention is on the forefront of every CF mom’s mind. Over time, the inflammation and infections can deteriorate the lungs and affect their ability to function.
Sticky secretions also cause a big problem in the digestive tract for many people with CF. The fluid that is typically excreted from the pancreas when a person eats is often too thick and obstructs the pancreatic ducts, inhibiting the digestive enzymes from getting out and doing their job of breaking down and digesting food.
To learn more about the disease including symptoms, treatments, and prognosis, I encourage you to visit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation website.