Preventing Infections in Cystic Fibrosis Patients

Preventing Infections in Cystic Fibrosis Patients


There is no known cure for cystic fibrosis so the main purpose of treatment is to reduce the severity of the symptoms and give the patient the best possible quality of life. New antibiotics developed recently are more effective in fighting infections and killing the bacteria that causes them. Faster acting inhalers deliver the medications straight to the airways. Long-term users of antibiotics have the potential of developing a resistance to drug therapy.

Preventing Infections in Cystic Fibrosis Patients


The role of white blood cells in the body is to attack bacteria. When the DNA in the cells is released it makes the mucus thicker. There is a new aerosol drug that can be prescribed to breaks up the DNA into pieces and makes the mucus thinner. The new drug is called dornase alfa and it does have side effects. The drug can cause sore throat and increased irritation in the airways.


Medications including albuterol may help keep the air passages and bronchial tubes clearer. Cystic fibrosis patients must have a way to clear the mucus from their lungs and air passages. There are several methods used to clear mucus. Manually clapping the back and chest with a cupped hand will loosen the mucus. This is best done while the patient’s head is hanging over the edge of the bed. Gravity will help clear the thick mucus from the pulmonary area.


A mechanical device called a chest clapper is now available to cystic fibrosis patients. Also on the market is an inflatable vest that uses a high frequency vibration to loosen the mucus and allow the patient to cough it up. Patients with cystic fibrosis both adults and children need to have this treatment twice a day. Older patients may be able to clear their bronchial areas with these electrical devices but young children should have help from an adult.


A healthy diet can help a patient with cystic fibrosis combat infection. If the disease is affecting the digestive tract a patient can become malnourished because cystic fibrosis affects the pancreas and the enzymes needed to digest your food do not get to the stomach. A higher caloric intake will help with some deficiencies but a patient with this disease should take extra vitamins and enzymes to maintain weight. They may also consider nutritional drinks to supplement their diet.


The last resort for a cystic fibrosis patient is a lung transplant. Severe breathing problems may prompt your doctor to recommend this treatment. You should realize a lung transplant is not a cure for the disease. Your doctor will help you decide if you are a good candidate for a lung transplant. Some factors to consider will be your over-all health, your lifestyle and the availability of donors in your area. A lung transplant will mean replacing both sides of the lung because cystic fibrosis affects both lungs. Having a lung transplant is a major surgery and there are serious complications to consider before deciding to have the operation. There is a risk of postsurgical infections that could be risky.

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