Cystic Fibrosis (pronounced sis-tik fi-bro-sis) also known as CF is an inherited illness, which currently has no cure.
When someone has CF, the glands in their body that produce mucus become faulty and produce very thick sticky mucus which builds up in the CF sufferers lungs and blocks their airways which makes it easy for bacteria to grow, leading to serious recurring lung infections.
The build up of mucus in a CF sufferer also blocks the tubes in their pancreas, meaning the enzymes that help break down food as you eat, can't reach their small intestine.Without these enzymes you can't absorb fats and proteins properly. Because of this, people with cystic fibrosis have to take tablets called creon with any food they eat.
Each CF sufferer has different symptoms and severities of the illness ranging from a mild strian of the illness that doesn't show up until they're adolescents or adults while others have serious lung and digestive problems.
One in 25 people of European descent carry the CF gene. The CF Trust campaigned for all children to be tested for CF when born with the heel prick test, and the National Screening Committee now recommended that all babies should be screened for Cystic Fibrosis.
Why can't people with CF meet each other?
Because of the low immune system caused by CF, and the ability for bacteria to grow easily on their lungs, people with Cystic Fibrosis can't meet each other. This is because infection can be spread by passing between different individuals with CF – especially if they have a different strain of the illness.
Before we knew much about this condition, people with CF sometimes attended "CF Camps" and similar gatherings. Cystic Fibrosis patients were grouped in the same areas in hospitals and equipment (such as nebulizers) was not sterilized between individual patients. This inevitably let to “cross-contamination” of illnesses in CF sufferers. Now we know more about CF, the patients are isolated from each other when in the hospital and sterilisation happens in between healthcare providers seeing one CF patient to another.
The CF Trust exists to research a cure for CF, however until such a time as one is found, the treatments for CF are improving rapildy, and with this so does life expectancy. Some people with CF today, live into their forties, fifties, and sometimes even older. .
What else do CF sufferers have?
An increased risk of diabetes and osteoporosis (which is a bone thinning condition).
Most people with CF will also have problems having children as it can cause infertility (especially in men).
Because of the increased risk of certain conditions, CF sufferers need to visit the hospital for regular check ups and are also required to do physiotherapy everyday.
Each week, five babies are born with Cystic Fibrosis and three young lives are lost to it.
Around half of the CF population can expect to live over 38 years, although improvements in treatments mean a baby born today could expect to live even longer.
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