Cystic fibrosis is a serious genetic condition that causes severe damage to the respiratory and digestive systems. This damage often results from a buildup of thick, sticky mucus in the organs. The most commonly affected organs include the:
Cystic fibrosis affects the cells that produce sweat, mucus, and digestive enzymes. Normally, these secreted fluids are thin and smooth like olive oil. They lubricate various organs and tissues, preventing them from getting too dry or infected. In people with cystic fibrosis, however, a faulty gene causes the fluids to become thick and sticky. Instead of acting as a lubricant, the fluids clog the ducts, tubes, and passageways in the body. This can lead to life-threatening problems, including infections, respiratory failure, and malnutrition. It is critical to get treatment for cystic fibrosis right away. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical for improving quality of life and lengthening the expected lifespan.
CF is most common among people of Northern European ancestry and affects about one out of every 3,000 newborns. About one in 25 people is a carrier.It is least common in Africans and Asians. It was first recognized as a specific disease by Dorothy Andersen in 1938, with descriptions that fit the condition occurring at least as far back as 1595. The name "cystic fibrosis" refers to the characteristic fibrosis and cysts that form within the pancreas.
Approximately 1,000 people are diagnosed with cystic fibrosis every year in the United States. Although people with the condition require daily care, they can still lead a relatively normal life and work or attend school. Screening tests and treatment methods have improved in recent years, so many people with cystic fibrosis can now live into their 40s and 50s.
The disease is progressive and there’s no cure. The average life expectancy of a person in United States with the disease is 37 years of age, although that number is rising as treatments become more effective. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation recommends that individuals with the disease stay at least 6 feet away from each other to reduce the risk of exposure to germs that become airborne with a cough or sneeze. Mucus normally protects the airways by trapping germs until they are expelled through coughing. In the case of cystic fibrosis, however, the secretion becomes so thick that these pathogens remain stuck in the lungs, leading to infection and making it difficult to breathe. 'Five Feet Apart' is one of the movies that ignites debate in cystic fibrosis community.