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Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is a congenital disorder that causes severe damage to the lungs, digestive system and other organs in the body.

Cystic fibrosis affects the cells that produce mucus, sweat and digestive juices. These secreted fluids are normally thin and slippery. But in people with CF, a defective gene causes the secretions to become sticky and thick. Instead of acting as lubricants, the secretions plug up tubes, ducts and passageways, especially in the lungs and pancreas.

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms related to the lungs and sinuses may include:

  • Coughing or increased mucus in the sinuses or lungs
  • Fatigue
  • Nasal congestion caused by nasal polyps
  • Repeated episodes of pneumonia
  • Sinus pain or pressure caused by infection or polyps

Symptoms that may be noticed later in life:

  • Male infertility
  • Repeated inflammation of the pancreas
  • Respiratory symptoms
  • Clubbed fingers


Typically, a blood test is done to detect cystic fibrosis. The test looks for changes in the gene related to CF. Other tests used for diagnosis include:

  • Immunoreactive trypsinogen (IRT) test
  • Sweat chloride test