Chronic Disorder Series: Cystic Fibrosis
“It can make me feel like I’ve won a marathon every single day, because let’s face it, I have.”
– A cystic fibrosis patient explains what it feels like to live with the disease
We know living with cystic fibrosis can feel like a perpetual uphill battle. As a disease typically detected at a young age, cystic fibrosis patients can often feel overwhelmed with the management of their illness: According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, of the 70,000 children and adults affected by cystic fibrosis, more than 75% are diagnosed before the age of two. If you or your child is living with this disease, please share this information with family members or friends who need more insight into your chronic illness:
What is cystic fibrosis?
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease. A defective gene mutates the cells that create mucus, making the substance thick and gluey. Mucus is normally a lubricant, but this has the opposite effect: The mucus clogs the lungs and blocks the pancreas, which prevents normal digestive functionality.
What are cystic fibrosis symptoms?
People living with cystic fibrosis will experience symptoms that include:
- Chronic shortness of breath
- Lung infections
- Phlegmy coughing
- Difficulty keeping weight on
Is there cystic fibrosis prevention?
If you, your partner, or a close relative has cystic fibrosis, your child will have increased chances of contracting the disease. Today, every newborn gets a screening for cystic fibrosis at birth. If you or your child exhibits symptoms of cystic fibrosis, it’s important to get tested as soon as possible. A doctor will perform a painless sweat test to determine whether you have the disease.
What cystic fibrosis treatment options are available?
Although there is no cure for cystic fibrosis, there are a number of treatment options that make the disease more manageable. Patients need to receive rigorous and attentive care to stay healthy. Doctors typically recommend a combination of the following:
- Cystic fibrosis medication: Antibiotics provide preventative treatment for lung infections, and bronchodilators and mucus thinners help airways remain functional. Pancreatic enzyme supplements are also essential to ensure that the patient’s digestive tract absorbs necessary nutrients. Appropriate medications for cystic fibrosis vary depending on the severity of the patient’s symptoms.
- Airway Clearing Techniques (ACT): These exercises help patients keep airways clear to improve lung function. Exercises include coughing, chest physical therapy, and postural draining and percussion.
- Diet: Many young patients living with cystic fibrosis have difficulty gaining weight. A calorie-heavy and fat-rich diet is essential to ensure that the body is getting the nutrients it needs.
In the past fifty years, dramatic medical advances have improved the quality of life for people living with cystic fibrosis. With Simplefill’s prescription assistance program, you can easily obtain the medication you need to live well. Apply for prescription assistance today and get started with a Simplefill advocate.