Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system. According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the disease affects 30,000 children and adults in the United States and about 70,000 people worldwide.
Cystic fibrosis is caused by a defective gene and its protein product, which causes the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs, leading to life-threatening lung infections. It also obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from breaking down and absorbing food.
About 1,000 new cases of cystic fibrosis are diagnosed each year, and more than 70% of patients are diagnosed by age two. The predicted median age for a person with cystic fibrosis to survive is more than 37 years; in the 1950s, few children with cystic fibrosis lived long enough to attend elementary school.
In order to have cystic fibrosis, a person must inherit two copies of the defective CF gene—one copy from each parent. The most common symptoms of cystic fibrosis are:
- Very salty-tasting skin
- Persistent coughing, at times with phlegm
- Frequent lung infections, like pneumonia or bronchitis
- Wheezing or shortness of breath
- Poor growth/weight gain in spite of a good appetite
- Frequent greasy, bulky stools or difficulty in bowel movements
- Small, fleshy growths in the nose called nasal polyps
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The informational content of this blog is intended to convey general educational information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.