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Children's Health

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Understanding Cystic Fibrosis -- Diagnosis and Treatment

What Are the Treatments for Cystic Fibrosis? continued...

Antibiotics are crucial to treating cystic fibrosis lung infections.

Mucus-thinning drugs help get rid of mucus in the lungs.

Anti-inflammatory drugs help lower inflammation in the lungs.

Treating Digestive Problems
People with CF need to eat a well-balanced, high-calorie, high-protein diet. Their reduced absorption of nutrients often means that as children, they must get up to 150% of the recommended daily allowances to meet their growth needs. Multivitamins and supplements of vitamins A, D, E, and K are also important. To help digestion, people with cystic fibrosis need to take pancreatic enzymes before every meal and snack and extra enzymes to help digest high-fat foods. Those with severe digestive problems may need supplemental feedings with specialized, high-calorie formulas either with a feeding tube or, in rare cases, through a vein.

Gene Therapy
Gene therapy attacks the cause of cystic fibrosis rather than just treating the symptoms. Kalydeco (generic name: ivacaftor) a drug that treats an underlying cause of cystic fibrosis, may help some people. Four percent of those with the disease -- about 1,200 people in the U.S. -- have the specific gene defect that Kalydeco treats. The drug is approved for people over 6 years old.

Some cystic fibrosis patients have had lung transplants to replace failing lungs.

How Can I Prevent Cystic Fibrosis?

If both parents are carriers of the cystic fibrosis gene, they may wish to consider their chances of having a child with cystic fibrosis. Genetic testing of the unborn baby for cystic fibrosis can be done in the uterus but requires taking fluid or tissue samples from the womb (amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling). Once a child is born, there are no treatments available that can prevent cystic fibrosis from developing.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on March 01, 2015
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