Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a hereditary disorder that affects the exocrine glands – the glands that are responsible for secreting products into ducts, and are the counterparts of the endocrine glands. CF causes the production of thick mucus which can result in the blockage of pancreatic ducts, intestines and brochi, causing respiratory infections.

Cystic Fibrosis occurs when a child inherits multiple defective copies of the gene responsible for causing CF, one from both of their parents. It is important to note that carriers of these genes do not necessarily have CF nor exhibit any symptoms of the disease. When carriers of Cystic Fibrosis have children, there is 25% likelihood that the child will be born with CF and 25% likelihood that the child will not. There is, however, a 50% change that the child will be a carrier of it.

Out of all other diseases, Cystic Fibrosis is the most common fatal disease affecting children and young adults in Canada today. One in every 3,000 children born in Canada have CF. It can cause various issues in the body, but mainly attacks the lungs and digestive system. Symptoms include persisting cough with mucus, shortness of breath, wheezing, frequent chest infections (such as pneumonia), bowel changes, and fertility problems.

If Cystic Fibrosis is suspected, Vancouver physician Dr. Ali Ghahary will refer patients for what is called a “sweat test,” which is administered by a lab. A sweat test measures the amount of salt that is present in the sweat. If positive, it is then supportive of a CF diagnosis. Genetic testing as well as prenatal and newborn screening are also different methods of determining whether or not CF is present.

Airway clearance is a very important aspect of Cystic Fibrosis treatment, as it helps to prevent mucus build-up and helps the lungs work at capacity. A physiotherapist will go over different techniques that are best suited for the individual, such as breathing control and chest expansion exercises.

As with almost any medical conditions, complications can occur as a result of Cystic Fibrosis. These include digestion problems, malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies, lung damage, liver disease, osteoporosis and CF-related diabetes. If you are exhibiting any of these symptoms, it is important to see your physician as soon as possible.

There will be a 3km walk taking place in Vancouver on May 28th in support of Cystic Fibrosis Canada called the ‘Walk to Make Cystic Fibrosis History.’ Funds raised from this walk will be used for further CF research and advocacy. The walk will start at 9 AM at the VanDusen Botanical Garden, and a free pancake breakfast will be provided for all registered participants. For more details on this or other Cystic Fibrosis events across Canadia, visit http://cysticfibrosis.ca or Facebook.