Cystic Fibrosis: Understanding Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Management, And Prevention


Cystic Fibrosis is a health condition with mucus buildup in various body organs. The lungs and pancreas are some of the most important organs that are affected by this health condition. The mucus buildup is often seen as thick and quite sticky. Hence, people who are affected by this condition may find it difficult to breathe effortlessly. There are not many significant causes for cystic fibrosis other than genetics.

The mucus buildup on your organs is quite normal and nothing to be worried about, but it becomes dangerous only when the buildup is not found to be slippery and watery. However, there are a lot of advanced treatments available these days so that you can easily clear your lung pathways and enjoy trouble-free breathing. 

Cystic Fibrosis: Symptoms

Weight gain becomes impossible 

This symptom can be primarily seen in children who are suffering from cystic fibrosis. Even if they have been eating enough and a healthy amount of calories required for growth and development, they would never be able to gain weight. Usually, in these children, issues of appetite can also be not found. 

Cystic Fibrosis Symptoms

Breathing difficulty 

This is one of the most important symptoms that can be found in both adults and individuals who are struggling with the health condition of cystic fibrosis. This difficulty can be often misunderstood as a flu symptom. Hence, it is important to get a detailed checkup done, if the issue persists. 

Sinus infections 

Sinus infections and frequent headaches can also be a reason for cystic fibrosis. If you are having frequent attacks of sinus infection accompanied by breathing difficulties. This can possibly be an evident symptom of cystic fibrosis. 

Cystic Fibrosis: Causes


Genetics is the one and only reason discussed as a cause of Cystic Fibrosis. You can get this condition if one of your parents is affected by this condition, or if both of them are victims of the same. However, there is no need for your parents to have this condition, for you to develop cystic fibrosis by birth, or during the course of your life. You can get infected with fibrosis even if any of your blood-related family members had this condition during their lifetime.

Another complex thing about this cause is the involvement of carrier genes in transmitting this disease from generation to generation. This means, neither your parents nor your blood-related family member have been a victim of this condition. But you can still develop this issue because some of them might have a carrier gene, that did not become visible in their lifetime but gets activated in your body. 

Cystic Fibrosis: Diagnosis and Tests 

Testing in newborn 

Since this is a genetic disease, it needs to be diagnosed right from the time time of birth itself. Early diagnosis can help make the treatments and management of the symptoms more effective. In many cases, testing for Cystic Fibrosis is mandatory before the mother and child leave the hospital. This is kind of a blood test and the blood sample of the newborn would be placed on a card called Guthrie card. 

Sweat Test

This is the most accurate test practiced by healthcare professionals to diagnose cystic fibrosis in their patients. This is done by taking the sweat of the patient and then checking for the amount of chloride in it. People with It tend to have a higher amount of chloride in their sweat when compared to other healthy individuals. 

Cystic Fibrosis: Management and Treatment 

Physical techniques to keep the airways clear 

In this form of treatment, the healthcare professionals would treat you with some special ways to cough. Some special breathing techniques would also be taught to keep the airways clean. Apart from that, there is also some equipment that you may use to lose the thick and sticky mucus buildup on your organs. You can also seek the help of your dear and near ones to pat on your chest and back to loosen the mucus buildup. Coughing along with the patting action can also bring more effective results. 


Cystic fibrosis is not a curable condition. However, it is possible to ease the symptoms of the same with the help of medications. Antibiotics are some of the main among them. Bronchodilators are also some of the effective medications used in the treatment of cystic fibrosis. They would be in the form of inhaling capsules. Anti-inflammatory medicines and steroids are also administered in some patients. Those patients who are suffering from the issues of constipation are also given medications to loosen their stools. Digestion stimulators are also given in such cases. 


Surgeries are also an effective treatment mechanism in some people with the issue of cystic fibrosis. Bowel surgeries are proven to remove mucus blocks in patients. Surgeries are also done on the nose and sinuses so that the difficulties with the symptoms can be improved. 

Cystic Fibrosis: Prevention 

When it comes to the aspect of preventing cystic fibrosis, it is important to accept the fact that it cannot be prevented. Since this is a health condition transmitted through genes, there is hardly anything you can do in this regard. However, you can take advice and suggestions from an expert medical professional if you and your partner are planning to have a child when any one or both of you are suffering from the issue.

Read More: 10 Respiratory Diseases And Their Impact On Health


Now, you might have received a detailed understanding of the disease, cystic fibrosis, some of the major symptoms of this disease, the main cause of the same, that is genetics, a couple of modern diagnosis methods available, management of the symptoms, treatment methods, and also the fact with the prevention of the disease. The only smart thing that you can do with cystic fibrosis is to identify the major symptoms of the disease at an early stage so that you would be able to have a medical diagnosis and treatment without making a delay.


  • World Health Organization. The molecular genetic epidemiology of cystic fibrosis.
  • Sommerburg O, Hammermann J, Lindner M, et al. Five years of experience with biochemical cystic fibrosis newborn screening based on IRT/PAP in Germany. Pediatr Pulmonol. 2015;50:655–664. [PubMed]

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Dr. David G Kiely is a distinguished Medical Reviewer and former General Medicine Consultant with a wealth of experience in the field. Dr. Kiely's notable career as a General Medicine Consultant highlights his significant contributions to the medical field.

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