In people who are affected by cystic fibrosis, the function of the CFTR gene is disrupted. This, in turn, leads to developments that adversely affect the body. One of the main cystic fibrosis effects is the disturbance of water/salt flow along the cells.
As a result of this, the mucus that is normally secreted becomes thick and sticky, in turn blocking the organs and disrupting their normal function. The organs in the body that are most prone to cystic fibrosis effects are the lungs, pancreas, liver, gall bladder, intestine, bones, sweat glands and reproductive organs.
Cystic Fibrosis Effects – How Every Organ Is Affected
The thick and sticky mucus, over a period of time, accumulates and blocks the airways, causing breathing difficulty.
The mucus also facilitates the growth of bacteria, which in turn infects and causes swelling in the lungs, nose, and sinuses. Nasal polyps develop in some cases. These have to be surgically removed.
The function of the pancreas is to produce digestive enzymes that are passed into the intestine, where these enzymes help the body absorb the nutrients from food items. This organ also produces insulin, which is necessary to control the sugar level in the blood.
Due to cystic fibrosis effects, the pancreatic ducts are blocked, preventing the enzymes from travelling to the intestine. The intestine fails to absorb nutrients like fats, protein, and vitamins from the food, leading to further complications.
The sugar level in the blood is not regulated as the insulin produced by the pancreas is blocked by the mucus. This ultimately causes damage to the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin and enzymes. In this way, cystic fibrosis effects contribute to insulin dependent diabetes, due to the increase of sugar level in the body. This problem affects close to 15% of the individuals with cystic fibrosis. Malnutrition and vitamin deficiency, which affect the overall growth and development of the individual, are secondary effects.
Liver And Gallbladder
The mucus formed due to cystic fibrosis blocks the bile ducts in the liver and the gall bladder, in turn preventing them from functioning normally.
Similar to the previous cases, the mucus blocks the intestine – a development that could be life threatening in some cases. This condition is called Meconium Ileus and is common in young children.
In individuals with cystic fibrosis, the absorption of calcium is also affected. This mineral is essential for bone health, and the lack of it causes the bones to become weak and brittle. The condition is commonly called Osteoporosis or Osteopenia, and it is one of the primary cystic fibrosis symptoms.
Cystic fibrosis brings about the excessive loss of salt from the body through sweat. This causes weakness, decreased blood pressure, increased heart rate, dehydration, heat stroke, and in some cases, death.
Cystic fibrosis effects target both males and females differently. Males are rendered infertile, as the thick mucus blocks the ducts and prevents the passage of sperm into the testes. Women face decreased fertility as the cervix is blocked, with the mucus preventing the entry of sperm.
Such cystic fibrosis effects can be countered through proper cystic fibrosis diagnosis and treatment measures, as recommended by a physician.