People with cystic fibrosis (CF) often look healthy, but it's a life-limiting condition that affects those living with it in many ways. The condition is caused by a genetic mutation that means cells in the human body are unable to move salt and water around effectively. This results in a build-up of thick mucus in the lungs and digestive system, as well as a number of other effects.
People with CF are particularly susceptible to lung infections, and as such have to take precautions to avoid exposure to harmful bacteria and other bugs. For example, two people with the condition should never meet in person, as they are each at risk of cross-infection - passing on harmful bugs to each other.
Cystic fibrosis is as varied as the people who have it - each individual's genotype (genetic make-up) will dictate the symptoms that they experience and how much they will be affected by them. These include poor lung function, frequent and persistent
lung infections and the inability to effectively digest food, particularly
fats. Additional complications include CF-related diabetes, bone disease and infertility.
There are many treatments available to help ease the effects of cystic fibrosis, and people will take different treatments depending on their symptoms. Treatments range from physiotherapy to reduce the build-up of mucus in the lungs, oral enzymes to help digest the fats in food and antibiotics to treat infections. It is also important to maintain a healthy diet and stay active in order to be in top condition to fight off infections. As lung function can reduce over time, many people will find that they require a double lung transplant.
Treatments have come a long way over the years - take a look at how much progress has been made!
Lung infections often require intravenous antibiotics
involving long hospital stays away from friends and family, which can also take
a toll on the mental health of people with cystic fibrosis. Poor health can also make it hard to maintain employment with regular hours, or go on holiday.
We are dedicated to creating a brighter future for everyone with cystic fibrosis, where they live long and healthy lives unaffected by the condition. Find out more about the research we are funding, our fight for a life unlimited and how you can support us.