Cystic fibrosis is a serious disease with life-threatening complications. It is important a patient have an early diagnosis so treatment can begin immediately. If you do have cystic fibrosis, symptoms will get worse and will make the disease more difficult to control and treat. The disease affects the glands that secrete mucus and sweat. Both are important for the body to work properly but a mutant gene affects these glands.
These glands secrete a thin, watery liquid that is used to lubricate the important passageways and the major organs in the body. Patients who carry the mutant gene have mucus that is thick and sticky. It gathers in the lungs and air passages making it difficult to breath. Remember, stress will aggravate the breathing problem.
Wheezing and Coughing
Other signs and symptoms of the disease are a change in color of the sputum the body coughs up and an increase in the amount. This will normally be accompanied by a chronic cough and the cough may bring up mucus and sputum streaked with blood.
Wheezing, repeated bouts of bronchitis and wheezing are strong signs the body may have the mutant cystic fibrosis gene. A patient may find polyps in their nose and have repeated bouts of sinusitis. Asthma attacks are also possible.
Unexplained weight loss in a child or teenager, and a failure to thrive in a young infant may also be signs that cystic fibrosis can be attacking the digestive organs. An infant may experience a swollen belly, stomach pain, and excessive gas. A baby may have diarrhea or the other extreme and have a bowel blockage.
After the first few months of life, mothers or caregivers may kiss the baby and find they have a Ã¢â‚¬Å“saltyÃ¢â‚¬Â taste. If you notice this sign in your child, they should be taken to the doctor immediately for further testing.
Unexplained Weight Loss
Signs of the disease in older children can be unexplained weight loss even though they are eating a normal, healthy diet and their appetite is good. The delayed onset of puberty may be another hint the child has the cystic fibrosis gene. Children born with cystic fibrosis often have their reproductive system affected.
Males with cystic fibrosis are sterile. Females with cystic fibrosis may have a reduced chance of becoming pregnant, but they can conceive and carry a child to full-term or near full-term.
A mutant gene that produces the protein that moves chloride ions through cell membranes causes cystic fibrosis. When this protein is abnormal it blocks the movement of the chloride ions and water in the organs and cells are blocked.
The secretion begins turning thick, heavy and sticky. The stickiness causes the secretion to stick to the walls of the airways and small ducts that go to the intestinal tract. Blocked cells and ducts then become breeding grounds for the normal bacteria that cause illness. Instead of being flushed out of the body, it says and multiplies and causes severe complications.
You must inherit the mutant gene from both parents before you can be born with the cystic fibrosis disease.