Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition which causes a buildup of mucus in the lungs and digestive tract. The symptoms of cystic fibrosis are quite varied, because there are numerous versions of the defective gene responsible for the condition, and as a result, two patients rarely have the same symptoms. However, there are some generalized symptoms of cystic fibrosis which can be a tipoff that a patient has the condition and could benefit from medical evaluation.
In some instances, the symptoms of cystic fibrosis manifest within days of birth, and this often makes the condition easier to diagnose, because infants and babies have clear developmental targets and when they fail to reach them, a pediatrician will investigate. Other patients experience symptoms which onset in childhood, and can make the condition more difficult to identify if the family has no history of cystic fibrosis.
With infants, one of the telltale signs is a failure to pass stool after birth, caused by a blockage in the intestines. Other symptoms of cystic fibrosis can include pale, foul-smelling, greasy stool, along with weight loss, a failure to reach developmental targets, and a large appetite which develops because the body is not absorbing nutrients properly. Typically the patient also coughs and wheezes frequently, and may experience recurrent respiratory infections.
Pancreatitis and cirrhosis can develop in some patients, along with abdominal pain, rectal prolapse caused by straining on the toilet, and fatigue. Some patients develop polyps in their noses, along with clubbing in the fingers and toes, and one of the hallmark symptoms of cystic fibrosis is salty skin. Patients can also experience delays in sexual development which result in a late onset of puberty, and some patients develop infertility, especially in the case of male patients with cystic fibrosis.
The symptoms of cystic fibrosis are different in each patient, and they can onset at different times. Early symptoms of cystic fibrosis often include recurrent respiratory problems and a notable overproduction of mucus, along with irregularities in the stool. The symptoms are often addressed by a doctor, as the patient will be taken to the doctor to treat respiratory infections, but if parents notice that their children are having difficulty breathing, getting sick a lot, or experiencing bowel irregularities and they have not been to the doctor lately, it may be time to make an appointment so that the doctor can examine the child and determine the cause of the child's health problems.