What is Cystic Fibrosis?

We have had a few people asking what Cystic Fibrosis is and what it affects so here we have tried to explain the basics..

What is Cystic Fibrosis?

Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic condition that affects the lungs and digestive system, the gene that CF affects controls the movement of salt and water in and out of cells. this causes a thick mucus to build up in the lungs, digestive system and other organs.

How is CF caused?

Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic condition that a person is born with. its not something you can catch or get later on in life.

It happens when both parents are carriers of the faulty gene. ( most people wont know they are a carrier until they have a child born with CF) one in 25 people are a carrier of the gene  and mostly without knowing, if both parents carry the CF gene then there is a 25 percent (1 in 4) chance of there child being born with Cystic Fibrosis.

aboutcf-chart-eng

How is it diagnosed?

  •   CF is one of the conditions tested for in the newborn screening test and has been since 2007 after a campaign by the CF trust. this means the condition is now picked up a lot earlier meaning the condition can start to be treated as soon as a diagnosis is made.
  • carrier screening from a simple swab or blood test can determine if your a carrier of the faulty gene.
  • antenatal testing can be used very early on In pregnancy if a women is considered to be at high risk of having a baby with CF.
  • sweat tests can be used to diagnose CF as people with it have higher levels of salt in there sweat.

What are the symptoms and what does CF affect?

Cystic fibrosis is as varied as the people who have it – each individual’s genetype (genetic make-up) will dictate the symptoms that they experience and how much CF will affect them. some of the symptoms include poor lung function, frequent lung infections and the inability to effectively digest food,  in particular fats due to mucus blocking the ducts in the pancreas meaning they struggle to gain or maintain weight, other effects CF can have include CF-related diabetes, bone disease and infertility.

What treatments are used?

many treatments are used to ease the symptoms of cystic fibrosis, these include antibiotics in order to try and prevent infections, enzymes before eating in order to help food to digest properly, daily physio therapy to help clear the lungs. daily medicines including salt replacements and vitamins. nebulizers and other medications are also used.

Is there a cure for CF?

Currently there is no cure for Cystic Fibrosis and it is a life threatening and life limiting condition. this is why it is so important for funds to be raised in order to be used to find a cure! things are improving all of the time and the life expectancy is on the increase each year –  we are really hopeful that a cure can be found.

For more information please visit the CF trust website! cysticfibrosis.org.uk

 

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