Cystic fibrosis presents many challenges, and a CF diagnosis can mean different things to each individual. Even though being diagnosed with CF can mean that you have limitations, it shouldn’t stop you from living your life to the fullest. Many people with CF have a good quality of life, often enjoying travel, rewarding careers, fun hobbies, and loving families.
If you have cystic fibrosis, it’s essential to know that you’re not alone. Around 33,000 people in the United States are living with cystic fibrosis, with about 1,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Although there isn’t a cure for cystic fibrosis, it may be impossible to reduce the frequency and severity of your flare-ups, or even prevent them entirely, with an effective and consistent treatment plan.
New treatments for cystic fibrosis are being developed all of the time, making the long-term outlook for people diagnosed with CF better than it’s ever been. You can help keep your body as healthy as possible by sticking to your treatment plan, eating right, staying active, and maintaining a positive outlook.
What Is Cystic Fibrosis?
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disorder that affects the lungs, liver, intestine, pancreas, and reproductive organs. In healthy people, the body produces mucus as a watery and slippery substance to keep the organs moist; however, in patients with cystic fibrosis, their body produces an excessive amount of thick and sticky mucus. This thick mucus builds up in the lungs and airways, causing breathing difficulties and putting patients at a higher risk of bacterial infections. It also causes a range of other challenging symptoms that affect the whole body.
How Do You Diagnose Cystic Fibrosis?
You are born with cystic fibrosis, and you cannot catch it; however, one in 25 people carry the faulty gene that causes it — most without being aware. The majority of cystic fibrosis cases are diagnosed during newborn screening. As screening only indicates CF, positive results are further confirmed with a sweat test. A sweat test looks for high salt levels in a person’s sweat — a common symptom of cystic fibrosis. Other tests that can help diagnose CF include blood tests, pulmonary function tests, and chest X-rays to determine the mucus density in the airways, among others.
How Do You Treat Cystic Fibrosis?
The goal of treating cystic fibrosis treatments is to loosen and remove mucus from the lungs, prevent lung infections and limit their severity, prevent and treat intestinal blockages and prevent dehydration. Effective cystic fibrosis treatment plans are as individualized as the patient and based on the symptoms experienced and condition’s severity. A combination of different therapies can help to address the diverse symptoms that CF causes.
Lung therapies include using antibiotics to prevent and treat lung and sinus infections, DNAse enzyme therapy, inhaling saline solution, oxygen therapy, flu and bacterial vaccines, percussion vests, and lung transplants. Many patients find that a nebulizer is the easiest and most convenient way to inhale their medication. Furthermore, a portable nebulizer enables Cystic Fibrosis patients to complete part of their daily treatment on-the-go.
As cystic fibrosis also affects the digestive system, bowel therapies are an important part of treatment and help to increase the absorption of vital nutrients. CF symptoms can be eased by taking pancreatic enzymes, vitamin supplements, and medications that relieve constipation.
Although there is currently no cure for CF, treatments can improve your quality of life and increase your life expectancy.
Living with Cystic Fibrosis — How To Find Support
If you’re living with cystic fibrosis, it’s essential to build a support system of people who can help you cope with your condition. Many CF-centered support groups exist for both patients and caregivers and can connect like-minded people living with cystic fibrosis. Support groups allow you to meet other people who have symptoms and experiences similar to your own. Sharing your story and hearing other peoples can be incredibly empowering and inspiring.
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation also has chapters across the U.S. that offer resources for people living with Cystic Fibrosis ., including treatment and therapy recommendations, advice on nutrition and exercise, information about traveling, college scholarships, financial aid and much more.
With the help of an effective treatment plan and your cystic fibrosis healthcare team, your lungs can do the vital work they were meant to do. To find out more about Airehealth’s nebulizer and how it could make your cystic fibrosis treatments easier, click here.