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Cystic fibrosis – Facts

Cystic fibrosis (mucovoidosis, mucoviscidosis) is a serious genetic condition. It affects the whole human body, leading to the disability of the patients and shortened life span. It primarily affects the sweating and mucus glands in the body, causing them to produce specific, sticky mucus. This mucus is responsible for the blockage of many organs in the body, especially the lungs, pancreas and reproductive organs. There is a specific salty sweat on the skin of cystic fibrosis patients, frequent lung infections, breathing difficulties, cough and also impotence, and infertility.

To this day, there is no cure for cystic fibrosis and patients may expect the treatment that will ease some of the symptoms and increase the life expectancy. Therapy for cystic fibrosis includes proactive treatment of lung infections and gastrointestinal tract. The main treatments are antibiotic medications, orally, inhaled or intravenously given. Some cystic fibrosis patients are treated with the transplantation and gene therapy.

For decades now, there is a screening program for all newborns, to establish the presence of cystic fibrosis. Also, there are some neonatal genetic tests and test for adults whose family members have this disease, to find out if they are carriers of the mutated gene that cause cystic fibrosis.

Cystic Fibrosis –Statistics

Every year, in the United States only, one of 4.000 children is born with the cystic fibrosis. The statistics reveal that this medical condition is rarer in African American and Asian American children. Among African American, one of every 15.000 children develop cystic fibrosis and only 1 of 32.000 Asian American kids.

In most cases (more than 80%) cystic fibrosis is diagnosed in very young children before the age of three. There are less patients undiagnosed until their 18th birthday (about 10%) and even less cystic fibrosis cases diagnosed at the age of 20 and later (some 3%).

This medical condition was first diagnosed in the 1930s, and the child was not expected to live more than a year with cystic fibrosis diagnosis. 20 years later, children survived approximately 5 years with this diagnosis. In the 1980s, the lifespan of the cystic fibrosis patients was raised to some 14 to 20 years.

Further improvements in the medicine and science enable the doctors to treat the patients suffering from cystic fibrosis and help them lead a relatively normal life for some 35 to 40 years. Some people suffering from this condition have survived for much longer time than expected.

It is proven that male patients usually live longer than females. Patients that had lung transplant are also found to live lot longer than usual for this illness. People who survived the longest, according to the researchers, were those whose pancreatic function remained intact. These patients have been recorded to survive for more than 50 years with diagnosed cystic fibrosis.

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