What is cystic fibrosis?

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:45 pm
Cystic fibrosis (SISS-tick fi-BRO-sis) is a hereditary disease that affects the digestive and respiratory systems. Children with this condition secrete a thick, sticky mucus, which clogs the respiratory system, making it difficult to breathe, and blocks the secretion of digestive enzymes. These enzymes are necessary to absorb nutrients from food and if absent, can lead to malnutrition. The sweat glands are also affected, producing extremely salty sweat, which can lead to salt depletion or heat exhaustion during hot weather. Cystic fibrosis produces several symptoms, including chronic respiratory infections, coughing, breathlessness, and failure to gain weight. After diagnosis, treatment may include antibiotics, a special diet, and enzyme replacement preparations that must be taken with meals. For more information regarding the diagnosis or treatment of cystic fibrosis, talk to a healthcare provider.

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