The most immediate symptom of cystic fibrosis in the lungs is that it makes breathing more difficult. The buildup of mucus blocks the airways and lines the walls of the lungs, making it more difficult to draw oxygen from each breath. A common analogy to the way cystic fibrosis restricts lung function is that it feels like breathing through a straw.
The buildup of mucus also affects the lungs in more severe ways. The thick mucus associated with cystic fibrosis provides an environment that is easily infected by certain bacteria. The most common opportunistic infection is Pseudomonas aeruginosa. These infections often become chronic (occur frequently) and are actually the main cause of health decline and mortality in people with cystic fibrosis.
How Cystic Fibrosis Affects the Lungs
Cystic fibrosis causes mucus to build up more thickly around the body. For people with cystic fibrosis, the most severe symptoms of this build up manifest in the lungs. This can block airways and leave the person susceptible to opportunistic bacterial infections.
Managing CF Symptoms in the Lungs
Breathing difficulties are one of the most difficult symptoms of cystic fibrosis. There are many practices that aid in opening the airways and clearing mucus. These are known as Airway Clearance Techniques or ACT’s. You can learn more about these in our Chest Therapy 101 blog.
The most effective way to treat opportunistic infections in the lungs is through inhalation therapy medications. TOBIⓇ and CaystonⓇ are two drugs used in treating cystic fibrosis. They work by killing the bacteria or by inhibiting its growth. You can learn more about these drugs and how they work in TOBI vs Cayston Pseudomonas aeruginosa treatments.
Learn more about Cystic Fibrosis with us
Cystic fibrosis is often associated with chronic lung and sinus infections. Chronic lung infection is the leading cause of death in cystic fibrosis. Learn more about chronic sinus and lung infections and ways to avoid and treat them.
One of the most common symptoms of cystic fibrosis is the build up of mucus in the airways. In this article, we outline a number of Airway Clearance Techniques (ACT’s) that are some of the most effective strategies for clearing this mucus from the airways.
Cystic Fibrosis and the Respiratory System. Stanford Children’s Health. July 14, 2013. Accessed Sept 10, 2015
How Cystic Fibrosis Affects Breathing and the Lungs. WebMD. Sept 9, 2014. Accessed Sept 10, 2015