Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month

A child being tested for cystic fibrosis.May is Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month. During this time, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center is working to provide important information about this disease for our patients, including its symptoms, potential complications, and current available treatments. 

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a hereditary disease that affects the mucus-producing cells in your body.  CF occurs when there is a mutation of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene. This mutation disables cells from moving chloride (a component of salt) to their surfaces. Without the movement of chloride, cells cannot hydrate properly, causing your body to produce thicker, stickier mucus.

The buildup of heavy mucus caused by CF can damage the digestive system, lungs, and other organs that depend on mucus to function by obstructing the ducts, tubes or passageways of these organs. Those living with cystic fibrosis also often have abnormally high levels of salt in their sweat. Other symptoms that may develop as a result of the disease include:

  • Frequent lung infections, such as recurrent pneumonia or bronchitis
  • Persistent cough with thick mucus
  • Frequent sinus infections
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nasal polyps
  • Fatigue
  • Delayed growth or puberty
  • Bowel movements that produce greasy, bulky stool
  • Severe constipation
  • Male infertility

All babies born in the United States are screened for cystic fibrosis by testing small blood samples. If someone is suspected to have CF, their doctor can also order a sweat test to determine if their chloride levels are normal.

Currently, there is no cure for CF; treatment generally focuses on alleviating symptoms and reducing complications. Treatment may include: 

  • Medications, such as antibiotics for lung infections, anti-inflammatory medications, stool softeners, mucus-thinning drugs, medications that assist in nutrient absorption, and medications that treat gene mutations
  • Physical therapy
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation
  • Surgery

To learn more about cystic fibrosis or to make an appointment with a pulmonologist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call (718) 206-7126.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.