Did you know that about 30,000 people in the U.S. have Cystic Fibrosis? It’s one of the most common inherited diseases among caucasians, with over 1,000 new diagnosis each year. While much progress has been made, no cure is available for the genetically inherited disease today. People with CF are living longer and healthier lives than ever before. Today, nearly half of all people with CF in the United States are adults. In just 10 years, life expectancy has increased from 33.4 years to 40.7, and over 2600 people with CF are over 40. It wasn’t too long ago that cystic fibrosis was seen as a childhood disease. This has not been by chance, but the result of research, discovery and the development of new treatments by the CF Foundation, and the resulting clinical care guidelines that they have established.
Cystic fibrosis is a chronic, progressive, and almost always fatal disease of the body’s mucus glands. It primarily affects the lungs and gastrointestinal (GI) system. Lung infections are serious and ultimately a chronic problem for many individuals with cystic fibrosis. This is due to the thick and sticky mucus that accumulates in their lungs allowing bacteria to thrive and multiply. Because of this, most people require chronic therapy with potent antibiotics and other products to help remove this harmful bacteria.
Because of the thick secretions that build up in the pancreas and prevent the release of digestive enzymes, people with CF have difficulty absorbing certain vitamins and nutrients from food. To address this, most people with CF – almost 9 out of every 10 patients – take pancreatic enzymes to help with digestion of food and nutrient absorption.
Better nutrition also appears to be associated with better lung function. This association suggests that “a healthy weight” is important not only to nutrition and growth, but to lung function as well.
As people with CF are living longer and pursuing more opportunities, there are more college graduates. There are also more adults who are working full time or part time. Since the late 1990s, the number of people with CF with college degrees has more than doubled. But, with these positive and exciting changes, people with CF are also seeing new challenges often indirectly linked to the disease. See “OUR CAUSE” to learn more.