General Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis

General Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis


Often if a parents know they are both carriers of the recessive CF gene they will have undergone DNA testing and realize there is a chance their child will have cystic fibrosis. Testing can be done before the baby is born to see if they have the mutant gene. The disease cannot be treated until after birth, but it does give parents time to educate themselves about the disease and emotionally prepare for the birth of the child. Many times, a baby is diagnosed when they are two to three months old. The parent is usually the first to notice a slightly “salty” taste when they kiss their baby. This is the major indicator of cystic fibrosis. The infant should be taken to the doctor where tests can be performed to confirm the diagnosis.


Symptoms are common for individuals with cystic fibrosis, but may vary in the severity of the symptoms and how many vital organs it affects. Another common indicator an infant may have CF is they may have a bowel blockage soon after birth. The normal substances that are eliminated through the first bowel movements may not be expelled and it can cause the blockage.


General Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis

Symptoms for CF found in the gastrointestinal system are similar to symptoms of other gastrointestinal problems so they may not be attributed to cystic fibrosis at first. Early bowel blockage in a newborn, or in a small infant can be a sign. The stools smell horrible and the child may have diarrhea too. If the baby has a lot of stomach pain, cramping, or vomiting that also can be a sign of he disease. As you can see, these symptoms are common to other milder childhood disorders.


If the disease is attacking the respiratory system, the child may be wheezing, coughing, and have repeated episodes of respiratory infections. Pneumonia, bronchitis, and other respiratory infections should be looked at, especially if the growth of your baby seems to be slower than normal. An infant or older teen may discover polyps in their nasal cavities and have recurring sinus infections. The cough they may have might bring up thick mucus and sputum and sometimes can be streaked by blood. When cystic fibrosis affects the respiratory system it can cause severe breathing difficulties.


The respiratory tract and the gastrointestinal system are the two most common areas affected by cystic fibrosis. It can affect other parts of the body. It can produce bleeding disorders such as the inability of the blood to clot, and can cause a decrease in the red cells that results in anemia. The bones and joints may also be affected. A person with cystic fibrosis may have joint and bone pain, arthritis, a slower growth rate, and could develop osteoporosis. Fingers and toes may flatten out and swell giving them the look of a club although this doesn’t happen in all patients.


Every individual with cystic fibrosis will have different symptoms and will vary in the severity. No two CF patients are the same and treatment should be tailored to each individual patient.

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