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Cystic Fibrosis - Symptoms

Symptoms of cystic fibrosis are usually caused by the production of thick, sticky mucus. Symptoms vary from person to person. They aren't always obvious in childhood.

Early symptoms

Symptoms of cystic fibrosis in a baby or young child may include:

  • A blocked small intestine at birth, called a meconium plug.
  • Salty sweat or skin.
  • Wanting to eat more or less than normal, having little energy, or losing weight.
  • Unusual bowel movements.
    • The child may have diarrhea that doesn't go away, large and greasy stools, very smelly stools, or constipation.
    • If the intestines become blocked, the child's belly may stick out. The child may not be able to have a bowel movement.
  • Breathing problems or getting tired easily while playing.
  • A cough that doesn't go away or wheezing.

Later symptoms

Over time, symptoms may get worse and cause problems such as:

  • Coughing up mucus that sometimes has blood in it.
  • Difficulty exercising or not being able to exercise.
  • Rectal prolapse, which means that part of the rectum protrudes from the anus.

Other symptoms

More symptoms may develop during late childhood or early adulthood. They include:

  • Clubbing (rounding and flattening) of the fingers.
  • Growths (polyps) in the nose or sinuses.
  • Not being able to have children (infertility).

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 08, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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