What is Cystic Fibrosis?
Cystic Fibrosis is an inherited medical condition in which there is significant damage done to the cells that produce mucous. These cells are mainly found in the lungs, the digestive system, the sweat glands, and other vital organs of the body. It is caused by a defective gene inherited by the child from the parents. The cells that are primarily affected by Cystic Fibrosis are the lungs and the digestive system.
Cystic Fibrosis makes the slippery and thin mucous extremely thick such that it starts blocking the airways, ducts, and other passageways affecting functioning of the major organs of the body. As of now, there is no cure for this condition and people affected by Cystic Fibrosis have a poor prognosis.
However, with the research that has been put and new treatment approaches these individuals now have a much improved quality of life than before. They can now even complete their education and be gainfully employed. Despite all the treatments, these individuals usually succumb to the complications of Cystic Fibrosis by the fourth decade of their life.
What are the Body Parts affected by Cystic Fibrosis?
Cystic Fibrosis affects the cells of the exocrine glands. These glands function by producing thin slippery secretions like mucous, sweat, tears, and juices that aid in digestion. This condition makes these secretions thick such that they start obstructing with the normal functioning of the body.
The body parts most affected by Cystic Fibrosis are the respiratory system, digestive system, reproductive system, and sweat glands. The brain and nervous system however are spared by this condition.
Sweat Glands: Cystic Fibrosis causes an increase in the quantity of salt in the sweat. The leads to problems in hot weather or when exercising when there is increased sweat.
Cystic Fibrosis Affecting Respiratory System: This is the primary body system that gets affected by Cystic Fibrosis. The function of the respiratory system is to take in oxygen from the air and transport it to various parts of the body and eliminate the carbon dioxide from the body. Tiny hair like projections called cilia help in keeping the lungs clear and free from any debris. They also help in clearing the mucous from the body.
Due to Cystic Fibrosis the cilia is not able to clear the mucous due to its thickness which then builds up and clogs the airways causing persistent cough and frequent lung infections. This severely damages the lung and affects its function such that the body is not able to get the required oxygen it needs for normal functioning.
Digestive System: The digestive system aids in digesting the food that is eaten. The digestive system produces juices which aid in digestion. Cystic Fibrosis makes these juices extremely tick such that they start obstructing the passage that the food takes in the process of digestion.
The thick digestive juices block the pancreatic duct thus preventing the digestive enzymes to reach the small intestine to digest the food. This overall affects the process of digestion with the affected individual complaining of frequent bouts of diarrhea with greasy stools. This condition medically is referred to as pancreatic insufficiency.
Cystic Fibrosis Affecting Reproductive System: The reproductive system also gets affected by Cystic Fibrosis. The condition affects the fertility of the individual even though they may have normal sexual intercourse. Almost all individuals especially males with Cystic Fibrosis are infertile.
The reason behind individuals with Cystic Fibrosis being infertile is that the vas deferens which is a duct that carries sperms to the penis gets blocked due to thick mucus. Thus the individual may have normal ejaculation but the semen will have no sperm in it. In females, the thick mucus blocks the cervix which prevents the sperm from coming in contact with the egg necessary for conception.