Skip to content

    Children's Health

    Select An Article

    Understanding Cystic Fibrosis: The Basics

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease, meaning it is caused by a person's genes. It affects the glands that produce mucus and sweat, causing mucus to become thick and sticky.

    As the mucus builds up, it can block airways in the lungs. This makes it increasingly difficult to breathe.

    Understanding Cystic Fibrosis

    Find out more about cystic fibrosis:

    Basics

    Symptoms

    Diagnosis and Treatment

    Mucus buildup also makes it easier for bacteria to grow. This can cause frequent infections in the lungs.

    Mucus buildup can prevent necessary digestive enzymes from reaching your intestines. The body needs these enzymes to digest the nutrients in the food that you eat, including fats and carbohydrates.

    People with cystic fibrosis also lose large amounts of salt when they sweat. This can cause an unhealthy imbalance of minerals in your body. It can lead to:

    About 30,000 Americans have cystic fibrosis. Each year about 1,000 new cases are diagnosed.

    Sixty years ago, the disease killed most people who had it before they reached elementary school. Nowadays people with cystic fibrosis have an average lifespan of about 37 years.

    What Causes Cystic Fibrosis?

    Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disease.

    For someone to get cystic fibrosis, both parents must be carriers of the gene that causes it and then pass it on. That means 25% of the children of such parents will have cystic fibrosis.

    Boys and girls are equally likely to get the disease. About 10 million Americans carry the gene and do not know it. More whites get the disease than do people of other races.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on March 01, 2015
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    child with red rash on cheeks
    What’s that rash?
    plate of fruit and veggies
    How healthy is your child’s diet?
     
    smiling baby
    Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
    Middle school band practice
    Understanding your child’s changing body.
     

    worried kid
    fitArticle
    jennifer aniston
    Slideshow
     
    Measles virus
    Article
    sick child
    Slideshow
     

    babyapp
    New
    Child with adhd
    Slideshow
     
    rl with friends
    fitSlideshow
    Syringes and graph illustration
    Tool