Treatment for cystic fibrosis will vary for each individual. The severity of symptoms and the organs affected will be different for each patient. There is no known cure for cystic fibrosis. Treatment is to ease the symptoms and give the patient a better quality of life. Treatment also will prolong life. Normal life span for cystic fibrosis patients in the United States is around 36-39. Previously, infants rarely survived and the average life span of a patient with this disease was 16. The life span jumped dramatically when the abnormal gene was identified in 1988.
Technological advances now make it possible for cystic fibrosis patients to live to adulthood, marry, and raise families of their own. The most basic of treatment for cystic fibrosis is to ensure the patient is eating a healthy diet with more calories and vitamin and enzyme supplements. Second they need to ensure their airflow is as unobstructed as possible. Increase airflow to the lungs is an important part of treatment. The thickness and the mucus should be decreased and expelled. Antibiotics should be administered to prevent or treat possible infections in the lungs and bronchial passages.
There are over 115 treatment centers throughout the United States. These centers are unique in that they only treat cystic fibrosis patients. A treatment center will have doctors specifically trained to diagnose and treat cystic fibrosis patients and may also have support systems for patients and families. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation runs these centers. You may look for the locations of these centers on the Internet or by referral from your doctor.
There are several methods of nondrug treatments that are recommended for cystic fibrosis patients. Because patients with cystic fibrosis often do not absorb enough protein, calories, or vitamins, patients are encouraged to raise their caloric intake and take extra pancreatic enzymes and supplemental vitamins. Scientists and doctors recommend increasing caloric intake by 120-150 percent. Extra protein should be increased in the patient’s daily diet. It is also a good idea to drink liquids that give supplemental nutrients. There are several bands available at any grocery store or pharmacy.
Patients with cystic fibrosis should be encouraged to live as normally as possible. They should stay active. Physical exercise will help keep the thick mucus from sticking and collecting in the passageways to the important parts of the body. Exercise may not be suitable for some CF patients if their respiratory problems are severe. If you are an adult patient with cystic fibrosis, you should contact your doctor before you start any new exercise routine. A walk around the block is a good start for those who are not used to physical exercise. Exercise will help expand the lungs and increase air capacity.
Patients may also need postural drainage methods to remove the thick secretions from the passageways to the body’s major organs. One method is to just alternate the patient’s position. Another is by tapping with a cupped hand on the back and chest area to loosen the mucus. A vibrating vest is now available that is used to dislodge the mucus and allow it to be coughed up. Other new innovative devices are being used to put pressure on the lungs to help loosen the mucus and allow it to drain.