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About Cystic Fibrosis
Welcome to the Cystic Fibrosis Health Channel by eMedTV. Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disease of the mucus and sweat glands. This condition mainly affects the lungs, pancreas, liver, intestines, sinuses, and sex organs. Until the 1980s, most deaths from cystic fibrosis occurred in children and teenagers. Today, with improved treatments, people with cystic fibrosis live, on average, to be more than 35 years old.
Cause of Cystic Fibrosis
The cause of cystic fibrosis is a gene called the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene. Each person inherits two CFTR genes, one from each parent. Cystic fibrosis is caused when children inherit an abnormal CFTR gene from each parent.
Common Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis symptoms vary from person to person and can range from mild to severe. Common symptoms include: frequent coughing, frequent bouts of bronchitis and pneumonia, salty-tasting skin, and dehydration. One of the most common early symptoms of cystic fibrosis is meconium ileus, which is a blockage of the intestine that occurs shortly after birth.
Diagnosis of Cystic Fibrosis
In order for your doctor to diagnose cystic fibrosis, he or she will need to obtain a detailed medical and family history, perform a thorough physical examination, and order tests. The most useful test for making a cystic fibrosis diagnosis is the sweat test. The sweat test measures the amount of salt in your sweat.
The Role of Genetic Testing
The Tag-It™ Cystic Fibrosis Kit is the first DNA-based blood test approved to help detect cystic fibrosis. However, this form of genetic testing for cystic fibrosis only detects a limited number of the 1,300 genetic variations identified in the CFTR gene. Therefore, this form of testing should not be the only method used to diagnose cystic fibrosis.
Treatment for Cystic Fibrosis
Treatment for cystic fibrosis has improved greatly in recent years. The goal of treatment is to: prevent and control infections in the lungs; loosen and remove thick, sticky mucus form the lungs; prevent blockages in the intestines; and provide adequate nutrition.
Gene Therapy and Cystic Fibrosis
Gene therapy is a possible treatment for cystic fibrosis. It targets the cause of the disease rather than just treating the symptoms. Although the first cystic fibrosis gene therapy experiments have involved lung cells, scientists hope that these technologies will be adapted to treat other organs affected by cystic fibrosis.
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