Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening genetic illness which affects the digestive and respiratory systems. CF occurs in about one in 3500 live births. Many people carry the defective CF gene but have no symptoms.
The main symptom of cystic fibrosis is the production of a thick, sticky, mucus. This clogs the lungs leading to persistent coughing and frequent infections of the lung which can be life threatening. Thick, sticky mucus can also block the pancreas, preventing natural enzymes from properly digesting food. As less nourishment is absorbed by the body, this leads to complications including difficulty putting on weight and poor growth.
Other symptoms of cystic fibrosis include:
- wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and damage to the airways (bronchiectasis)
- yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice)
- diarrhoea, constipation or large, smelly poo
- a bowel obstruction in newborn babies (meconium ileus) – surgery may be needed.
Babies are now usually screened for cystic fibrosis, so the awareness campaigns are more focussed on providing support towards treatments and finding a cure.
To find out more or donate, take a look at the Cystic Fibrosis Trust website: Click here
I love their current slogan: ‘We were coughing before it went viral‘
Image credit: Blausen.com staff (2014). “Medical gallery of Blausen Medical 2014”. WikiJournal of Medicine 1 (2). DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 2002-4436., CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons