10 Things People with Cystic Fibrosis Want You to Know
More than 30,000 individuals in the United States live with cystic fibrosis (CF), and doctors diagnose about 1,000 new cases each year. Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that mainly affects the lungs, but also harms the liver, intestines, pancreas, and kidneys as well. It affects the cells that produce mucus, sweat, and digestive juices; instead of acting as a lubricant, the secretions build up in the lungs and block the airways, causing symptoms such as breathing difficulties and a persistent cough. CF is most commonly found among individuals of Northern European ancestry and affects about 1 out of 3,000 newborns. May is Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month, and to offer insight as to what it’s like to live with this condition, below are 10 things individuals with CF want you to know:
- With CF, a cough should not be brushed aside as simply a bad case of congestion. Those suffering from cystic fibrosis experience a persistent, chronic cough, and it is much more serious than some believe. There is a buildup of sticky mucus, which is present in the lungs as well as the digestive organs. It leads to major difficulties with breathing as well as processing food for the affected individual.
- Due to the damage caused to the salt chloride channel in the individual, the body tends to emit a higher level of salt, which means that the person sweats more often and in excessive amounts, thereby losing more salt, which increases their risk of becoming dehydrated.
- Even though the inside of the lungs as well as the organs may be sick, on the outside, the individual may not show many, or any, symptoms to reflect this; they may appear to be normal and healthy on the outside, and no one would be able to guess that they are actually suffering from a severe disease.
- In order to maintain a healthy weight, the individual has to eat extra calories every day, which would involve plenty of fats, dairy items, vegetables, and fruits. In certain cases, it has been seen that individuals also need to consume pancreatic enzymes along with food, which can require around 40 pills to be swallowed each day.
- It is important for patients with CF to carry out physical activity in order to ensure that the lungs function properly, which in turn will help to provide relief from any kind of breathing issues as well as increase their overall level of energy.
- Those suffering from cystic fibrosis should not stay close to other people since bacteria is known to be present in the lungs, caused by the buildup of sticky mucus. However, these bacteria are contagious only for those who are suffering from cystic fibrosis; otherwise healthy people do not face the same concerns.
- Those suffering from cystic fibrosis need to be well prepared for any kind of changes in their body, and they should also learn to deal with the changes currently happening in their body.
- Cystic fibrosis is not an easy condition to live with. It demands a lot of work and attention from the affected individual, due to which the person often ends up drained mentally and physically, and as the individual ages, it becomes even more difficult. Living with such a life-threatening disease is not something to be taken lightly.
- Cystic fibrosis is a complex medical condition that has no cure. The causes for this disease are multiple in number, but the medications available only help to provide relief from the symptoms; they do not treat the disorder itself.
- The symptoms as well as their severity differ from person to person. Similarly, there is no one treatment that fits all individuals with cystic fibrosis. The doctor will decide on various treatment options based on the case of each patient.