Cystic fibrosis is a disease that has no known cure. It can have devastating complications if not treated. Common and frequent complications are respiratory infections such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and chronic sinusitis. The passageways to the respiratory organs are dilated when you have these infections and can make it more difficult to clear the passageways. Asthma can develop from the chronic inflammation of the bronchial linings. Respiratory infections are common because the mucus that is blocking the passageways also harbor bacteria. One bacterium that causes severe complications is Pseudomonas aeruginosa. It causes increased inflammation in the respiratory system and although antibiotics can decrease attacks and lessen the severity it never leaves the airways and lungs. This same bacterium is found in healthy individuals but seldom causes infections. It is not considered contagious. The lungs can develop bleeding from the repeated infections and a patient may also have a lung collapse. A lung collapse happens when air leaks out of the lung’s outer layer. Respiratory failure is a concern for cystic fibrosis patients. Lung complications may also cause heart failure in the lower right chamber of the heart. The severity and frequency of lung infections can be fatal in some cystic fibrosis patients.
Another major complication caused by cystic fibrosis is nutritional deficiencies. The disease will make some patients prone to diarrhea. The thick mucus caused by cystic fibrosis can block the pancreas ducts and prevent the body from getting the enzymes that digest fats and proteins. The mucus also prevents the body from absorbing the fat-soluble vitamins that are essential for the body.
The pancreas controls the level of sugar in the body and because cystic fibrosis affects the pancreas a patient may develop diabetes. The bile duct carries bile from your liver and gallbladder to your small intestines. If thick secretions block the bile duct it can lead to cirrhosis of the liver.
Another problem or complication for cystic fibrosis patients is in the reproductive organs. Men with cystic fibrosis will have the duct connecting the testes and the prostate gland and render them sterile. Advances in medical technology can now make it possible for men with cystic fibrosis to father children. Women with cystic fibrosis tend to be less fertile but it is possible for them to have a full term baby. Pregnancy can worsen the symptoms of cystic fibrosis so you should discuss your disease with your doctor. Using oral contraceptives may also worsen the disease. Be sure to discuss the possibilities of complications of cystic fibrosis before taking oral contraceptives.
As with any disease, if you take care of your health you can reduce the severity of your symptoms. Eat a healthy diet, reduce stress in your life, and exercise regularly. Exercise can reduce stress and improve lung capacity. Before you start an exercise routine you should consult your doctor. Practicing deep breathing techniques can help increase lung capacity and reduce stress. Oxygen is an important tool of good health.