Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder affecting the digestive system and lungs. The disease affects cells producing digestive acids, sweat, and mucus. In healthy individuals, mucus is typically thin. However, individuals suffering from cystic fibrosis find their mucus sticky and thick.
The role of mucus in the body is to provide lubrication for the airways, protecting the lungs from irritants, such as cigarette smoke. However, individuals with the disease find that their mucus blocks up airways in the lungs, causing coughing and impaired breathing.
Today, medical science has a variety of treatments to improve the quality of life for people suffering from CS. It’s possible for people affected by the disease to attend work and social functions without worrying about their condition.
The advances in medical science mean that people suffering from the condition now have the opportunity to live well into their forties and fifties. If you’re concerned that you or a family member may have cystic fibrosis, look out for these eight symptoms.
1. Thick Mucus
Cystic fibrosis affects the way your body produces mucus. In healthy individuals, mucus is typically clear and sometimes yellow or greenish in color if you fall ill with the flu or bronchitis. However, mucus in CS patients is thicker and tainted with dark green or brownish particles. Patients of CS describe their condition as feeling if they are slowly drowning in their mucus.
The thick mucus clogs up the airways. The buildup of mucus comes from an abnormal gene named the “CFTR,” cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator. CTFR is responsible for maintaining the balance of water and salt throughout cells in the body. The thickening of mucus blocks up the small airways in the lungs and eventually spreads to the entire organ.
Common respiratory symptoms of CS include a feeling of breathlessness, wheezing, a persistent cough that produces thick mucus, inflamed sinus, and repetitive lung infections. The lack of air into the lungs leads to exercise intolerance as well.