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Cystic Fibrosis - Treatment Overview

After a child is diagnosed, a team of health professionals will build a treatment plan based on the child's specific health problems. Following a treatment plan will help your child live a longer, healthier life.

Your child will likely have ongoing respiratory therapy, digestive therapy, and treatment with medicines such as antibiotics. Regular medical care, home treatment such as postural drainage, and taking steps to reduce infection can help people with cystic fibrosis lead relatively normal lives.

The best treatment available is generally found at cystic fibrosis care centers. These centers address the medical, nutritional, and emotional needs. You can find one by contacting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation at www.cff.org.

Doctor visits and immunizations

Regular visits with the team of health professionals involved in your child's care are important. Your doctor will want to make sure that your child is eating properly and is gaining weight and growing at a normal rate. The doctor will record your child's weight, height, and head size in order to keep track of how your child is developing over time.

Lab tests can help your doctor know how serious the disease is and how it is affecting your child's body.

Your doctor will ask you about your child's immunizations and will schedule any shots that are needed. Children with cystic fibrosis should have all the recommended shots, plus pneumococcal shots. To learn more, see the topic Immunizations.

Respiratory therapy

Respiratory therapy is any treatment that slows down lung damage and improves breathing. The focus of this therapy is on reducing infection and getting rid of mucus to keep the lungs healthy. Medicines may be used to control the amount and thickness of mucus.

Other ways to help remove mucus from the lungs involve certain types of movements, coughing, or exercises known as airway clearance techniques.

actionset.gif Cystic Fibrosis: Helping Your Child Cough Up Mucus

People with severe lung disease may need to use oxygen at home.

actionset.gif Oxygen Therapy: Using Oxygen at Home

Digestive therapy

This treatment works to replace certain digestive enzymes, to make sure the body absorbs all the vitamins and minerals it needs, and to prevent or treat intestinal blockages. Digestive therapy involves:

  • Digestive enzyme replacement therapy (such as with Creon or Pancreaze), to help the intestines absorb nutrients from food.
  • Nutritional therapy to help replace lost nutrients. This may include taking vitamins; eating high-calorie, high-fat foods; drinking nutritional drinks; getting fed through a tube in the stomach; and, in some cases, receiving intravenous nutrient supplementation.
  • Preventing intestinal blockages with stool softeners (to avoid constipation) and enemas.
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