Cystic fibrosis symptoms vary from mild to severe and can present differently between individuals. In some cases, the symptoms starts showing as early as infancy, however in other cases, individuals might not show symptoms until they are adults.
The first sign is usually the salty skin that’s often noted in affected children. In individuals with cystic fibrosis, the organs in the body that are affected include the sinuses, lungs, liver, intestine, pancreas, and reproductive organs.
The Common Cystic Fibrosis Symptoms
The effects of cystic fibrosis can be noted across multiple organs, so the symptoms can be divided on this basis.
Respiratory Cystic Fibrosis Symptoms
In individuals with cystic fibrosis, the mucus becomes thick and sticky and accumulates in the lungs. This blocks the airways and prevents the flow of air in and out of the lungs, providing an ideal condition for bacteria to infect and grow.
Respiratory complications that ensue can include cough that produces excessive sputum, breathing difficulties, wheezing, and enlarged nasal passages. Affected individuals are also likely to suffer from bronchitis and pneumonia, and in some cases, the nasal polyps that develop will have to be removed surgically.
Digestive Cystic Fibrosis Symptoms
The sticky thick mucus blocks the ducts in the pancreas that make the digestive enzymes. This prevents the enzymes from moving to the small intestine, rendering the intestine unable to absorb nutrients like proteins and fats.
Over time, inadequate nutrition can result in malnutrition and deficiency. Weight loss and affected growth development are other characteristics. The primary digestive cystic fibrosis complications include severe constipation and intestinal blockage (more common in infants). The stools are released with bad odor, and individuals might also suffer from rectal prolapse, which occurs when the end of large intestine protrudes outside the anus when straining repeatedly to pass stool.
In severe cases, affected individuals might suffer from pancreatitis (enlargement of the pancreas), liver disease (when bile ducts are blocked by the accumulation of mucus), diabetes (when the function of the pancreas is affected), and gallstones.
Reproductive Cystic Fibrosis Symptoms
The Vas Deferens, which transports sperm from the testes to the penis, is absent in male individuals suffering from cystic fibrosis, and for this reason they are generally infertile.
Women who are suffering from cystic fibrosis symptoms might be unable to conceive easily because of the blockage caused in the cervix by the mucus, and also due to other associated conditions.
Other Cystic Fibrosis Symptoms
Cystic fibrosis affects the mineral concentration in the body. Excessive salt loss from the skin in the form of sweat is one of the common cystic fibrosis symptoms. This in turn causes weakness, low blood pressure, increased heart rate, dehydration, heat strokes, and in some cases, might prove to be fatal.
In many cases, bone density is reduced and this mainly occurs late in life among cystic fibrosis patients. The gradual reduction in bone density leads to thin bones, a condition that’s otherwise called osteoporosis. In individuals with cystic fibrosis, especially females, bladder control is usually lost. As a result of this, urine might leak out of the bladder while coughing.
If such cystic fibrosis symptoms are noted right during their early stages, steps for cystic fibrosis treatment can be taken once the physician recommends them.