How is cystic fibrosis treated?

Thanks to breakthroughs in medication, physiotherapy and other treatments, people with cystic fibrosis (CF) are living longer and healthier lives than ever before. Here you can find out all about the latest and best treatments for the many various symptoms of cystic fibrosis, from trusted medications to nutrition and exercises you can take care of at home. 

  • Treatments and medication

    As CF can affect many different parts of the body in many different ways, most people with CF will require a number of tablets and/or treatments a day, and there are a whole host of potentially helpful medications and treatments available, including ground-breaking CFTR modulators like KaftrioSymkeviOrkambi and Kalydeco. Kaftrio is first triple combination therapy to treat the cause of CF. It is licensed for people with CF aged 6 years and older, with at least one F508del mutation. You can read more about the complex and individual experiences around Kaftrio in our factsheet

    Find out which treatments are used for different parts of the body, and how we may be able to help with the costs of medication with a pre-payment certificate grant here.

    Find out more about CF treatments and medications

  • Physiotherapy

    Physiotherapy is vitally important and can start very early on in the life of a child with cystic fibrosis, depending on their symptoms. It covers a range of areas, such as airway clearance to help loosen and remove the mucus that builds up in the lungs, or maintaining good posture to avoid back problems that can have a negative impact on lung function.

    Find out more about physiotherapy

  • Staying active

    Exercise is particularly important for people with CF because it can help clear mucus from the lungs, improve physical bulk and strength, and help improve overall health. In particular, children with CF should be encouraged to take part in as much physical activity as possible, ideally types of exercise that leave you out of breath, such as running, swimming, football or tennis, although there are a wide range of suitable activities.

    Check out our activity library and CF fitness space, which includes lots of great video content to help you get fit in the comfort of your own home, here.

  • Nutrition and diet

    People with cystic fibrosis should have a balanced diet, although many will require more energy (calories) than someone without the condition in order to maintain a healthy body weight, which can be challenging. Nutritional needs will vary according to age, weight, height, symptoms, lung function and activity level. Specialist cystic fibrosis dietitians are part of every hospital CF team and they can advise on an individual’s requirements. 

    Find out more about how proper nutrition is an important part of CF treatment

  • Transition to adult care

    Part of growing up with cystic fibrosis is the transition from paediatric care to an adult cystic fibrosis service. In becoming more responsible for your own care and treatments, you will learn the skills you need to manage adult life and get the most from activities such as employment, going away to college, or living with a partner.

    The transition period should take a few years, starting as a teenager. It will involve lots of consultations between you, your clinic or specialist CF centre, your parents or carers and clinicians to make the move as easy as possible.

    Find out more about transition

  • Transplants

    Find out more about cystic fibrosis (CF) and double lung transplant, liver transplant and the transplantation of other organs. You can also find Cystic Fibrosis Trust’s transplant information resources for adults and children with CF, and their friends and family, to help them understand what it might mean for their loved one.

    Find out more about transplant

  • Personalised healthcare

    Over the years, healthcare in the UK has changed substantially. New technology, medicines and understanding have raised the bar, leading to better outcomes for everyone, not just people with cystic fibrosis. The next step-change is personalised healthcare, and it’s happening now! Find out more about what personalised healthcare means for you today, and in the future.

  • Mindfulness practices

    By practicing mindfulness, some people will find greater peace and calm, even while experiencing uncomfortable symptoms that can make it hard to think clearly. Of course, it won’t work for everyone, and it takes time and patience to pick up. Take a look at some mindfulness practices that are suitable for people with CF to try at home.

  • Specialist CF care

    People with CF should be cared for by a multidisciplinary team of specialist doctors, nurses and allied health professionals at a recognised specialist CF centre, as set out in our nationally recognised standards of care. Find out more about specialist CF care and read our consensus documents, compiled by clinical cystic fibrosis specialists in paediatric and adult care, working in hospitals and academic and scientific institutions throughout the UK, available from our publications library.

    Children will receive either full care from a specialist paediatric cystic fibrosis centre or shared care within an agreed, designated network. Due to the increasing complexity of cystic fibrosis in adulthood, full care should be delivered by a specialist adult cystic fibrosis centre.

Life-saving drugs

Get the latest on our campaign for access to the precision medicines Kaftrio, Symkevi, Orkambi and Kalydeco.

How CF affects the body

Cystic fibrosis doesn't just affect the lungs and digestive system. Read about the other parts of the body that can be affected by the condition.

What causes cystic fibrosis?

Find out about the faulty gene that causes cystic fibrosis, how it is passed from parents to children, and how to find out more about your genotype.

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