What are the Effects of Cystic Fibrosis?

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  • Written By: Jacob Queen
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 11 January 2019
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The primary effects of cystic fibrosis are related to the way the body produces fluids. When people suffer from this disorder, mucus and other bodily secretions are generally thicker than they’re supposed to be. As a result, there are many complications that can develop, including organ failure and infections. The effects of cystic fibrosis can lead to many life-threatening conditions, and while there are treatments, there aren’t actually any cures available, and the treatments aren’t necessarily very reliable.

One of the main effects of cystic fibrosis is chronic pneumonia infections. This is because the disease keeps people from having normal mucus, and thicker mucus is generally harder to cough up. Bacteria also tend to get trapped in the thick mucus, and the lungs don’t function appropriately because they’re so clogged, which often helps infections fester. Many individuals with cystic fibrosis eventually suffer from a fatal pneumonia infection.

In the same way that the mucus from cystic fibrosis can disrupt lung function, it can also lead to upper respiratory problems. These include chronic sinus infections or issues with nasal polyps. These aren’t quite as dangerous as some other effects of cystic fibrosis, but they may combine with other problems to stress the person’s health and make it harder to recover.


Digestive enzymes and insulin from the pancreas are also thickened by cystic fibrosis, and these can potentially lead to some of the most dangerous complications. For example, some people may begin to lose weight for no reason because they can’t digest their food properly. Others suffer diabetic symptoms because their body can’t produce enough insulin, and this can be extremely deadly. There is also a possibility for other organs, like the liver, to be affected.

The effects of cystic fibrosis are often very different for each patient. Not all patients have symptoms in exactly the same places, and the symptoms may appear at different times in a person’s life. Usually, people become very sick by the time they reach their 30s, and it is rarer, but not unheard of, for the symptoms to appear during childhood.

Typically, the effects of cystic fibrosis are fatal, usually because of indirect complications. In fact, it is rare for a person to live beyond the mid-30s with the disease. Various treatments and lifestyle changes can sometimes help prolong a person’s life, and there is a lot of research into possible ways of counteracting the genetic disorder which leads to the disease.



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