Your body is full of fluids. You have cells that create sweat, cells that create mucus and cells that create saliva and juices used in digestion. When these cells are operating normally, the secretions produced are thin and they are slippery so they help your body cool off, digest food, swallow and lubricate itself. But when someone has cystic fibrosis, the cells produce fluids that are sticky and thick instead of thin. This causes the tubes, passageways and ducts throughout your body, including in your pancreas and lungs, to clog and can make breathing an impossibility.
What is Cystic Fibrosis?
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that can be inherited by one or both of the patient’s parents. If it is only inherited from one parent, there will be no symptoms and the child won’t have the disease but simply the gene as a recessive gene. If both parents pass on the gene, the child will have the disease. The breakdown happens when a defective gene changes the protein that affects the movement of sodium in your body. Without this protein working properly, the sodium thickens the secretions and basically gums up the works.
The root cause of the faulty gene that causes cystic fibrosis is unknown, but some scientists and researchers have completed tests that suggest that it may be the result of a fatty acid imbalance. Fatty acids are the energy sources that operate your muscles and heart so they are extremely important. Patients with cystic fibrosis seem to have levels of fatty acids that are not in line with how they should be.
Cystic Fibrosis Symptoms
Cystic fibrosis symptoms are not always the same for each patient. Some cystic fibrosis symptoms include:
If you or a loved one display any cystic fibrosis symptoms it is important that you make an appointment with your primary care physician immediately. Because of the nature of the disease, severe respiratory complications could ensue, so a doctor’s attention is vital.
Cystic Fibrosis Treatment
There is no cure for cystic fibrosis, but the symptoms and ill effects can be treated. With treatment, the patient’s quality of life is improved as well as his or her chance of survival. While you may get your initial diagnosis and treatment at your primary care physician’s office, follow up visits should be at a special clinic that treats cystic fibrosis patients exclusively.
The treatment plan varies depending on the symptoms experienced by the patient but often involves a course of antibiotics, asthma medications to widen pathways, and a flu vaccine to prevent influenza. Some patients may need more severe treatment such as lung transplant and oxygen tanks for breathing.
There are many ways for cystic fibrosis patients to avoid making their symptoms worse. By taking vitamins, consuming additional enzymes, eating a high protein diet and avoiding smoke and dust, can all help keep the cystic fibrosis patient healthy and asymptomatic. Lastly, exercise and fluids are highly suggested to improve endurance and assist with the hard stool.
Remember, if you or someone you know is diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, it doesn’t have to mean the end of a life, but the beginning of a new one. With proper care and maintenance, you should live a long, quality filled life with some symptoms, but much happiness.
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