Tuesday, November 9, 2010
What exactly is Cystic Fibrosis? Well, its a life threatening genetic disease that causes mucus to build up and clog some of the organs throughout the body, mainly the lungs and pancreas. When this happens, it makes it very hard to breathe. The mucus build up could also lead to bacteria or germs getting stuck in the airways, this causes inflammation or swelling and infections that lead to severe lung damage. Mucus can stop the digestive enzymes from getting to the intestines, and the body needs those enzymes to break down food, providing important nutrients to help people grow and stay healthy. People with Cystic Fibrosis most times need to replace enzymes with medicine that helps the body digest food, and get the proper nutrition needed. So now that we know what cystic fibrosis is, how exactly do people get it?? Well, as mentioned before, CF is a genetic disease, or in other words people inherit it from their parents through genes (DNA). In order for someone to have CF, they must inherit two copies of the defective CF gene, or one copy from each parent. Who exactly gets CF and what are some of the common symptoms? This number may shock you, approximately 30,000 children and adults in the US have CF, and about 1 in every 31 Americans are carriers of the defective CF gene, but don't have the disease themselves. Caucasians are most likely to get CF, but it can affect all races. Symptoms include; very salty tasting skin, persistent coughing and at times with phlegm, frequent lung infections, like pneumonia or bronchitis, wheezing or shortness of breath, poor growth/weight gain in spite of good appetite, and small, fleshy growths in the nose called nasal polyps. How is one diagnosed with CF? Most people are diagnosed with CF at birth. They do this through a newborn screening. If not caught at birth, before the age of 2, if a doctors sees signs of CF, they will order a sweat test or a genetic test in order to confirm the diagnosis. If someone has CF, is there a cure for it? As of right now, there is no current cure for CF. However, specialized medical care, aggressive drug treatments and therapies along with the proper CF nutrition can lengthen and improve the quality of life for someone with CF. Would a lung transplant cure CF? Because of the defective gene that causes the disease is in all of the cells in the body and not just in the lung, a lung transplant will not cure CF. Around 1,000 new cases of cystic fibrosis are diagnosed each year. More than 70% of the patients are diagnosed by the age of 2. More than 45% of the CF patient population is age 18 or older. The predicted median age of survival for a person with CF is in the mid 30's. As one could tell, Cystic Fibrosis is having a huge impact on the US today, and the fact that there is no cure for it, its going to continue to hold steady, sadly.