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Which parts of the body does cystic fibrosis affect?

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The lungs aren’t the only part of the body that’s harmed by cystic fibrosis (CF). The disease also affects the following organs:

  • Pancreas: The thick mucus caused by CF blocks ducts in your pancreas. This stops digestive enzymes (proteins that break down your food) from reaching your intestine. As a result, your body has a hard time absorbing the nutrients it needs. Over time, this can also lead to diabetes.
  • Liver: If the tubes that remove bile become clogged, your liver gets inflamed and severe scarring (cirrhosis) occurs.
  • Small intestine: Because breaking down high-acid foods that come from the stomach is a challenge, the lining of the small intestine can erode.
  • Large intestine: Thick secretions (liquids) in your stomach can make feces (poop) very thick. This can cause blockages. In some cases, the intestine may also start to fold in on itself like an accordion (called “intussusception”).
  • Bladder: Chronic coughing weakens the bladder muscles. Almost 65% of women with CF have what’s called “stress incontinence.” This means that you leak urine when you cough, sneeze, laugh, or lift something. Though more common in women, men can have it, too.
  • Kidneys: Some people with CF get kidney stones. These small, hard mineral deposits can cause nausea, vomiting, and pain. If ignored, they can lead to a kidney infection.
  • Reproductive organs: Excess mucus affects fertility in both men and women. Most men with CF have problems with the tubes that transport their sperm, or what’s called the “vasa deferentia.” Women with CF have very thick cervical mucus, which can make it harder for a sperm to fertilize an egg.
  • Other parts of the body: CF can also lead to thinning of the bones (osteoporosis) and muscle weakness. Because it upsets the balance of minerals in the blood, it can also bring about low blood pressure, fatigue, a fast heart rate, and a general feeling of weakness.

From: Cystic Fibrosis WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Paul Boyce on September 17, 2019

Medically Reviewed on 9/17/2019

SOURCES:

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation: “About Cystic Fibrosis,” “CF Genetics: The Basics.”

American Lung Foundation: “Learn about Cystic Fibrosis,” “Cystic Fibrosis,” “Fertility in Women with CF.”

National Human Genome Research Institute: “Learning about Cystic Fibrosis.”

Mayo Clinic: “Cystic Fibrosis.”

YourGenome.org: “What is cystic fibrosis?”

National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences/Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center: “Cystic fibrosis.”

The Childhood Liver Disease Research Network: “Cystic Fibrosis Liver Disease.”

Johns Hopkins Cystic Fibrosis Center: “Effects of CF: Pancreas/Gastrointestinal Tract: Intestinal Problems,” “Effects of CF: Muscle/Bone,” “Effects of CF: Reproduction,” “Effects of CF: Bladder/Kidney.”

Reviewed by Paul Boyce on September 17, 2019

SOURCES:

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation: “About Cystic Fibrosis,” “CF Genetics: The Basics.”

American Lung Foundation: “Learn about Cystic Fibrosis,” “Cystic Fibrosis,” “Fertility in Women with CF.”

National Human Genome Research Institute: “Learning about Cystic Fibrosis.”

Mayo Clinic: “Cystic Fibrosis.”

YourGenome.org: “What is cystic fibrosis?”

National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences/Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center: “Cystic fibrosis.”

The Childhood Liver Disease Research Network: “Cystic Fibrosis Liver Disease.”

Johns Hopkins Cystic Fibrosis Center: “Effects of CF: Pancreas/Gastrointestinal Tract: Intestinal Problems,” “Effects of CF: Muscle/Bone,” “Effects of CF: Reproduction,” “Effects of CF: Bladder/Kidney.”

Reviewed by Paul Boyce on September 17, 2019

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What is the outlook for cystic fibrosis?

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