Cystic Fibrosis is a disease that is inherited only when both parents have the defective gene, and the child inherits both sets of defective genes. Cystic fibrosis causes thick, sticky mucus to be produced in the lungs, pancreas, and other organs.
Some of the symptoms of cystic fibrosis include greasy, bulky stools and excessive appetite with poor weight gain. These symptoms result from the interference of the mucus in the digestive process, with the pathway from the pancreas to the digestive system being blocked.
Very salty-tasting skin is another common telltale symptom. Because of the blockage in the lungs, persistent coughing is also the norm. Wheezing and shortness of breath also result.
For some people with cystic fibrosis, these symptoms develop in childhood. However, some have a milder form of the disease and may not realize they have it until later. Their symptoms may be milder until they reach adolescence or adulthood.
For most, however, lung function begins declining in childhood. This is why the leading cause of death in patients with cystic fibrosis is respiratory failure.
Clapping the back or chest of someone with cystic fibrosis, while he or she lies down or sits in a way that allows the mucus to be broken up can provide some temporary relief. Medical treatments include oxygen therapy, aerosolized antibiotics, nebulizer breathing treatments, bronchodilators, Pulmozone (a drug that thins mucus), hypertonic saline inhaled to thin the mucus, and anti-inflammatories to reduce inflammation in the lungs.