Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a chronic disease of the mucus glands which normally affects the respiratory and digestive systems. CF is a genetically inherited disease and is not contagious. Each year about 1,000 people are diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. The disease occurs more commonly in Caucasians than any other race. About 1 in 3000 Caucasian babies are born with cystic fibrosis while only 1 in 17,000 African American babies and 1 in 31,000 Asian American babies are born with the disease. More than 70% of all patients are diagnosed by age 2.
A healthy body produces a slippery mucus that acts as a lubricant to protect the linings of airways, organs and tissues. However, people with CF produce unusually thick and sticky mucus. Since the mucus is so thick and sticky it can obstruct the very airways it is supposed to protect. This can cause breathing problems and bacterial infections in the lungs. The infections result in coughing, wheezing, and inflammation. Chronic accumulation of mucus and repeated bacterial infections in the lungs can result in scar tissue, cysts and permanent lung damage. Read more →