Chronic or persistent cough
Frequent lung infections
Poor weight gain
How we can help
When you are living with cystic fibrosis, you need access to daily support and regular care. At the UW Health Cystic Fibrosis Center, we provide nationally recognized treatment for children and adults.
You receive services from doctors with specialty training in lung disease. We are one of 120 centers in the U.S. accredited by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Our cystic fibrosis care teams teach other health care professionals about cystic fibrosis and take part in research to provide better diagnosis and treatments.
Programs and research
Specialized care for lifelong health
When you come to the UW Health Cystic Fibrosis Center, we work with you to:
Educate your family about providing the care and help you need
Promote your good health
Prevent your condition from getting worse
Help you live the life you want
The National Institutes of Health recognizes our center as a model of effective and efficient health care for a chronic disease.
Our patients enjoy healthy outcomes for lung function that are higher than the national average.
Improving lung and overall health through research
The cystic fibrosis doctors and scientists at UW Health lead and participate in many research projects and clinical trials. We want to provide better treatments and improve the care you receive.
Cystic Fibrosis Center Outcomes Data
The UW Health Cystic Fibrosis Center is one of more than 115 care centers across the country accredited by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. We work closely with the Foundation to continue to improve the care and quality-of-life of our patients and publicly report our center-specific data to give patients, families and ourselves an opportunity to look for areas of improvement.
Pulmonary Function and Nutritional Outcomes
Pulmonary function and nutrition are important indicators of the health of cystic fibrosis patients. The Forced Expiratory Volume in 1 second (FEV1, the volume of air a person is able to forcefully blow out in a second) is considered a good indicator of lung function.
The following is data from 2019 and displays lung function for patients treated at the UW Health Cystic Fibrosis Center compared to the average score for all centers in the United States.
6-12 years old
98.3% (UW Health)
97.4% (U.S. average)
13-17 years old
95.3% (UW Health)
91.8% (U.S. average)
The Body Mass Index (BMI, a ratio of body weight to stature) is considered a good indicator of nutritional status. The following is data from 2013 and displays BMI for patients treated at the UW Health Cystic Fibrosis Center compared to the average score for all centers in the United States.
Median BMI percentile for patients 2-19 years old
63.7% (UW Health)
58.4% (U.S. average)
Care Provision Performance
Current guidelines of care recommend that patients with cystic fibrosis be evaluated at an accredited CF Center at least quarterly. In addition, patients should undergo pulmonary function testing at least two times a year and have a culture of their respiratory secretions performed at least once a year. The recommendation is also to increase the frequency of follow up for those patients that have more severe disease.
We believe that more frequent clinic visits and more frequent monitoring of pulmonary function and sputum cultures can lead to better outcomes. Thus, we strive to exceed the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's recommended testing and obtain pulmonary function test and a sputum culture (or throat swab culture for patients who cannot cough out sputum) at every clinic visit.
The following information represents two groups of patients who had four or more visits, four or more cultures and two or more PFTs.
Children ≥7 with ≥4 visits, ≥1 culture, ≥2 PFTs
58.7% (UW Health)
60.0% (U.S. average)
Our data is shown compared to the average outcomes reported by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for all accredited CF Centers in the U.S. (2019 data).
Conditions and symptoms
How we diagnose cystic fibrosis
At UW Health, we diagnose patients with cystic fibrosis at birth and in adulthood. Most people with cystic fibrosis know they have the condition as children.
More adults with less common symptoms are being diagnosed later in life. You might live with chronic coughing and sinus infections and not be able to gain weight.
We use a simple sweat test to make a diagnosis. We place two electrodes on your forearm. This causes your sweat glands to make sweat. We check your sweat for high levels of chloride. Your doctor may order additional tests such as blood work and X-rays to confirm the diagnosis.
Common symptoms for adults and children
If you have cystic fibrosis, your body makes thick, sticky mucus. This mucus can affect how your lungs, pancreas, sweat glands and reproductive system work. Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition. Symptoms are different for everyone.
Frequent loose stools
Frequent lung infections
Complications as you age
You might experience complications related to your cystic fibrosis as you get older. These conditions can include:
Cystic fibrosis-related diabetes
Living well with cystic fibrosis
You need daily treatments and regular care to stay healthy and live well.
Daily treatments include:
Airway clearance therapies to loosen mucus and clear it from your airways, such as:
Active cycle breathing
Forced expiration technique
Manual chest physiotherapy
Positive expiratory pressure
Medications inhaled into the lungs
Nutrition therapy, including enzymes and vitamin supplements
Other available treatments include:
For some individuals with advanced disease, lung transplantation might be the next step to help regain health.
Tips for maintaining your health and wellness
You can find a balance between your busy lifestyle and your care. At UW Health, we know that living with cystic fibrosis can be emotionally and physically challenging. Your care team stays by your side to help you feel your best.
Some tips for staying healthy with cystic fibrosis:
Avoid others with upper respiratory illness
Complete your physiotherapy exercises
Contact the cystic fibrosis clinic if there are changes in your health
Eat a cystic fibrosis-specific diet high in calories and fat
Keep yourself hydrated
Manage your mental health
Take your prescribed medication
Talk to your care team about annual flu and pneumonia vaccines
Visit the cystic fibrosis center regularly throughout the year
Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth when in a health care setting
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has "Cons" (virtual conventions) for patients and families. The remaining scheduled virtual event in 2021 is:
Sept. 24 and 25: CF BreatheCon. BreatheCon is a two-day event for adults with cystic fibrosis that will provide a virtual space to share, connect, and learn while supporting one another.
For patients having telemedicine/video appointments, we offer throat swab testing at a drive-thru site.
For patients over 6 years of age who are having telemedicine/video appointments, learn how to set up and use a spirometer.
Meet our team
Lung care experts by your side
The pulmonology team at UW Health includes experts in lung disease and cystic fibrosis nutrition.
How to find us
University Hospital - Adult Cystic Fibrosis Clinic
- 600 Highland Ave. / Madison, WI
- (608) 263-7203
- Closed now
- View hours, services and more
American Family Children's Hospital - Pediatric Cystic Fibrosis Center
- 1675 Highland Ave. / Madison, WI
- (608) 263-6420
- Closed now
- View hours, services and more