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Understanding Cystic Fibrosis -- Symptoms

What Are the Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis?

The symptoms of cystic fibrosis vary. Some children will have symptoms at birth, while others may not have symptoms for weeks, months, or even years. 

The severity of symptoms also varies, with some children showing only mild digestive and lung problems and others having severe food-absorption problems and life-threatening breathing complications.

Understanding Cystic Fibrosis

Find out more about cystic fibrosis:



Diagnosis and Treatment

The most common symptoms of cystic fibrosis are:

  • Salty-tasting skin, which parents notice when they kiss their child
  • Frequent coughing, wheezing, or bouts of pneumonia or sinusitis
  • Difficulty breathing that keeps getting worse
  • Big appetite but poor weight gain
  • Bulky, smelly, greasy bowel movements

Over time, the symptoms of cystic fibrosis can worsen and may include:

  • Pancreatitis, a painful inflammation of the pancreas
  • Liver disease
  • Diabetes
  • Gallstones



Call Your Doctor About Cystic Fibrosis If:

  • You are pregnant or planning to become pregnant and either you or the other parent has a family history of cystic fibrosis.
  • Your child tastes very salty when you kiss him or her.
  • Your child has had frequent lung or sinus infections and has problems gaining or maintaining weight. 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on March 08, 2014

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