In the lungs, CF causes severe breathing problems. A build-up of thick mucus makes it difficult to clear bacteria and leads to cycles of infection and inflammation, which damage the delicate lung tissues. People with CF must follow a demanding daily routine of physical therapy to keep the lungs free of congestion and routine IV antibiotics to fight infection.
In the digestive tract, CF makes it extremely difficult to digest and absorb adequate nutrients from food. Thick mucus blocks the ducts of the pancreas, preventing enzymes from reaching the intestines to digest food. Therefore, persons with CF must consume a large number of artificial enzymes (on average 20 pills a day) with every meal and snack, to help them absorb adequate nutrition from their food.
In the lungs, where the effects of the disease are most devastating, CF causes increasingly severe respiratory problems. Most persons with CF eventually die of lung disease.
For more information on CF, visit the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s website at:
To some degree, the symptoms of the disease in the lungs can be decreased by engaging in physiotherapy to help loosen the mucus which clogs the lungs. (Percussion, is a common form of physiotherapy used by people with CF; it involves thumping the chest and back vigorously). Antibiotics can also help to reduce lung congestion by fighting infection. Exercise plays a large role in keeping the lungs healthy. Unfortunately, over time, lung disease puts increasing limits on daily life; making even the simplest of tasks exhausting.