Diagnosis, Symptoms and Treatment
While most individuals with CF are diagnosed at birth, there is a growing group of patients who are not diagnosed until adulthood after they exhibit symptoms such as chronic coughing, recurring sinus infections or an inability to gain weight. Individuals who are diagnosed as adults usually have less typical symptoms with fewer complications, fewer lung infections and lower rates of pancreatic problems. An adult diagnosis is often referred to as delayed cystic fibrosis.
Symptoms for Cystic Fibrosis in Adults
- A persistent cough
- Frequent lung infections
- Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
- Malnutrition, difficulty gaining weight
Many individuals with CF are diagnosed with a sweat test. A sweat test is simple, accurate and pain-free. Two electrodes will be placed on your forearm causing your sweat glands to produce sweat. The sweat will be collected on a filter paper or gauze and will be taken to check for the level of chloride in your sweat. The higher the level of chloride, the more likely the diagnosis. If a sweat test is abnormal, often additional testing is recommended to confirm a diagnosis.
Daily treatments generally include:
- Airway clearance therapies to loosen mucus and clear it from the airways
- Medications that are inhaled into the lungs
- Nutrition therapies
- Supplements such as vitamins