Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disease that causes the body to make thick, sticky mucus. This is because of the faulty movement of sodium and chloride (the ingredients of salt) in the cells of certain organs, such as the lungs and pancreas.

What Are the Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis?

Signs and symptoms of CF include:

  • Salty-tasting skin
  • Coughing, wheezing, and recurrent lung infections
  • Good appetite but poor weight gain
  • Bulky bowel movements

In the lungs, the mucus leads to chronic infections and increasing loss of lung function. In the pancreas, the thick mucus keeps enzymes from reaching the gut to digest food. The disease also affects the ability of most men with CF to have children.

What Is the Long-term Outlook for Cystic Fibrosis?

There are about 30,000 children and adults with CF in the United States. Because of improved medical treatments, the median life expectancy for a person with CF is in the late 30s. Children diagnosed with CF today may live much longer. More than one-third of people with CF are adults of all ages. The outlook for people with CF is improving; however, there is no cure.