About Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is a progressive, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time affects approximately 30,000 people in the United States. The current median life expectancy for a person born today with CF today is 47 years of age. Adults with CF now account for more than 50% of the population.

Because of tremendous advancements in research and care, many people with CF are living long enough to realize their dreams of attending college, pursuing careers, getting married, and having kids.

In people with CF, a defective gene causes a thick, sticky buildup of mucus in the lungs, pancreas, and other organs. In the lungs, the mucus clogs the airways and traps bacteria leading to infections, extensive lung damage, and eventually, respiratory failure. In the pancreas, the mucus prevents the release of digestive enzymes that allow the body to break down food and absorb vital nutrients.

Each day, people with CF complete a combination of the following therapies:

  • Airway clearance to help loosen and get rid of the thick mucus that can build up in the lungs. Some airway clearance techniques require help from family members, friends, or respiratory therapists. Many people with CF use an inflatable vest that vibrates the chest at a high frequency to help loosen and thin mucus.
  • Inhaled medicines to open the airways or thin the mucus. These are liquid medicines that are made into a midst or aerosol and then inhaled through a nebulizer. These medicines include antibiotics to fight lung infections and therapies to help keep the airways clear.
  • Pancreatic enzyme supplement capsules to improve the absorption of vital nutrients. These supplements are taken with every meal and most snacks. People with CF also usually take multivitamins.

For further information on cystic fibrosis, visit www.cff.org.