Cystic fibrosis is usually diagnosed at birth, a few days after birth, or up to two years of age. Sometimes the disorder is missed all through childhood and not diagnosed until end stages in early adulthood when the case is mild. Millions of adult Americans carry the gene but have no symptoms, and they might pass it on unknowingly to one of their children. Just because a parent passes on the gene to one child does not mean that every child they have will have cystic fibrosis. Approximately one in 29 Americans of caucasian European descent will have the gene in their biological makeup. Someone who does wind up having cystic fibrosis must get the gene from both parents in order to have the disease.
Due to the fact that the defective gene involving cystic fibrosis can mutate in literally a thousand ways, there are symptom variations when someone has cystic fibrosis. In the first day or two of life, a child who has no bowel movement is suspect of having cystic fibrosis. When a child does have a bowel movement, if it is pale in color, floats, and has a horribly bad smell, these can be signs indicative of cystic fibrosis. Testing can be done at this time to determine the presence of the gene that has to do with cystic fibrosis, along with the detection of other symptoms. These tests can include a sweat chloride test, a test to detect the presence of a high level of IRT(or immunoreactive trypsinogen), a fecal fat test, and gastrointestinal tests to detect for problems associated with digestion. It might also be necessary to do testing to check lung function. These tests might seem excessive but early detection of cystic fibrosis is vital to survival.
Cystic fibrosis usually entails frequent lung infections, and these could be life threatening in some circumstances. To combat these infections, frequent use of antibiotics might be necessary, as will be medications to help the pancreas function properly and make enzyme levels. Vitamin supplements should be taken for health reasons, as it will be difficult for the body to maintain proper vitamin levels. Steroids in inhalation form will be necessary to keep airways open and operational. Medications to keep mucus thinned out and easier to cough up are necessary, as are pain relievers to help slow lung deterioration. In severe cases having a lung transplant will be necessary but will provide the best chances for survival. Lung percussion to loosen mucus and help it leave the lungs is important in most all cases, despite severity of the disease.
Prognosis over the last few decades has improved for patients with cystic fibrosis. Patients with the illness are living longer now than they ever have. Despite medical advances, many patients meet their fate due to lung complications of some sort. Pneumonia and chronic lung disease are the most common but other illnesses such as diabetes, liver diesase, and osteoporosi are concurrent illnesses that may also contribute to death. Severe symptoms such as shortness of breath and coughing up blood should be tended to immediately. While there are no ways to prevent cystic fibrosis, living with the disease can be manageable and quality of life decent for anyone who suffers from it. Hopefully one day a way to cure or prevent cystic fibrosis will be discovered.