Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive systems of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States (70,000 worldwide). A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections and obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food.

People with CF experience a variety of symptoms: persistent coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath, frequent lung infections, very salty-tasting skin due to the bodies altered ability to regulate the salt balance caused by the defective protein and poor growth/weight gain in spite of a good appetite.

Because the severity of the symptoms differs greatly from person to person and lung infections flare up at irregular intervals, the day in the life of people suffering from CF varies. Many people with CF take pancreatic enzyme supplements daily with every meal, multivitamins, engage in some form of airway clearance at least once and sometimes multiple times a day and aerosolized medicines.

Roughly 1,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, the majority of which are diagnosed by the age of two. Thanks to advances in medical research and treatment therapies, that predicted median age of survival for a person with CF is now more than 37 years.


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