Cystic fibrosis affects the cells that produce your body's secretions (body fluids other than blood) such mucus, sweat, saliva and digestive juices (stomach acid). Normally, these secretions are thin and slippery, but in children with cystic fibrosis, a defective gene causes the secretions to become thick and sticky. The thick mucus can clog the lungs and cause breathing problems. Mucus also can create a block in the pancreas (organ in the body) and other parts of the body causing stomach problems and difficulty digesting food.
Cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening disease, can cause severe lung damage and malnutrition (lack of necessary minerals and vitamins from foods). It is not contagious. Each child with cystic fibrosis is affected differently. Some children with cystic fibrosis are in good or even excellent health. Others are so severely limited by the disease that they may need to be hospitalized or cannot attend school regularly. Exercise is very good for these children, helping to loosen the mucus that clogs the lungs and increasing the ability to breathe deeply. Some children may tire more easily than other children.
In hot weather or when exercising, your child should be encouraged to eat salty snacks and drink extra fluids -- about 6-12 ounces of fluid every 20-30 minutes. Avoid caffeinated drinks such as colas because they can increase fluid loss (www.cff.org). Early identification is important in helping your child to maintain good health. The "sweat test" is the one most often used to determine if a child has cystic fibrosis. This simple and painless procedure measures the salt in a child's sweat. A high salt level indicates cystic fibrosis.
Children with cystic fibrosis can have any of these symptoms:
- Frequent pneumonia.
and/or greasy, bulky stools.
- Poor weight gain.
- Cough lasting more than a month.
- Shortness of breath.
- Constant upset stomach.
- Very salty-tasting skin, often noticed by parents when they kiss their child.
To get more information about Cystic Fibrosis, click here.
*Most of the information provided here is from the Teach More/Love More site, click here to visit their site.