Explore Cystic Fibrosis Treatments with IV Solutions
With all of the medications and treatments, you can lose track of what it’s all for. Take a moment to understand your doctor’s goals in treating you or your child for cystic fibrosis.
What is Cystic Fibrosis?
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disease. When a person has CF, their body produces thicker mucus. This mucus builds up and blocks the pathways inside the body, causing problems in the lungs and digestive system.
Is Cystic Fibrosis curable?
There isn’t a cure yet for cystic fibrosis, but the symptoms are treatable. For people living with CF, the life expectancy and quality of life continue to grow. Research, improved therapies, and new medications give people with CF hope for the future.
The Five Goals of Cystic Fibrosis Treatment:
- Prevent and treat lung infections
- Clear the lungs of heavy mucus
- Remove intestinal blockage
- Eat healthy food
- Keep hydrated
Goal 1: Prevent and Treat Lung Infections
Lung infections are the biggest problems for people with CF. The thick mucus in the lungs makes it difficult to cure an infection once it has settled in. People with CF need to wash their hands regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand gel. They also need to stay at least 6 feet away from anyone with a cold, flu, or infection. People who have cystic fibrosis should avoid meeting in person, especially indoors, because it is so easy for them to pass infections to each other.
Even if a person takes every precaution, they will still be exposed to infections. This is why antibiotics are such an important part of cystic fibrosis treatment.
Antibiotics in Cystic Fibrosis Treatment
Every person who has CF is different. The only way to know which antibiotic therapy is the right fit for you or your child is to speak with your doctor. Here are three targeted antibiotics from IV Solutions used to help those with CF.
Ciprofloxacin is the antibiotic of choice for bacterial infection. It is easily absorbed in the body and attacks the chemicals bacteria need to multiply. It can be taken as a pill or put directly into the blood through an IV catheter.
Tobramycin is used against sensitive bacteria. It damages the walls of a bacterial cell to destroy it and prevent it from multiplying. The medicine is delivered through a nebulizer and inhaled so that it remains in the airway. People with CF who use tobramycin often breathe easier and need fewer intravenous antibiotic treatments.
Cayston is an antibiotic for people with CF that are at least 7 years old. The antibiotic clings to a bacteria and destroys it. Doctors usually want Cayston to be taken for 28 days followed by a 28-day break. Cayston is taken with a special inhaler.
Disclaimer: Above are some prescriptions that may be taken to improve lung function and fight off infections. It does not include all medication available. We are not giving you medical advice. Please consult your doctor for further information and prescriptions.
Lung Transplants and Cystic Fibrosis
In recent years, improvements in the lung transplant process have helped many people. Because cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease, a transplanted lung will not have CF cells. Not everyone with CF requires the procedure, but a double lung transplant can change the life of someone with cystic fibrosis.
Goal 2: Clear the lungs of heavy mucus
A person with CF has to get that thick mucus up and out of their lungs. This is job done with a combination of physical methods and medication. The physical methods are called Airway Clearance Techniques (ACT). There are a variety of devices and breathing methods; a few are found below. Medications help thin out and break up the mucus so it can exit the body. Talk with your doctor to decide which methods are best for you or your child.
Physical Airway Clearance Techniques (ACT)
Coughing and Huffing
The most basic ACT is coughing, something the body does naturally. Huffing is a gentler, less tiring way to force air out of the lungs. It’s like “huffing” your breath to steam up a window.
High-frequency Chest Wall Oscillation
High-frequency Chest Wall Oscillation, or the Vest, is an inflatable vest vibrated at a high frequency by a machine. A treatment lasts 10–40 minutes. The mucus is shaken and dislodged from the lungs until it can be coughed or huffed out.
Postural Drainage and Percussion
Postural drainage and percussion (PD&P), also called Chest Physical Therapy (CPT or Chest PT), involves a person taking different positions to let gravity move the mucus inside the lungs. Clapping on the person’s back, chest, and sides rattles loose the mucus so it can get out of the body. Children and adults with CF can learn to do the clapping for themselves.
Airway Clearing Medications
Pulmozyme is inhaled during a breathing treatment. The medicine cuts through the DNA in mucus, making the mucus thinner. The thinner mucus is easier to cough or huff out, so it’ easier to breathe comfortably.
Acetylcysteine, or N-acetylcysteine (NAC), breaks down the proteins in mucus. The medication also creates the helpful antioxidant glutathione (GSH), boosting the immune system. There is also a notable decrease in lung inflammation.
Goal 3: Remove intestinal blockage
When a person has cystic fibrosis, the tubes that connect the pancreas to the intestines become blocked with mucus. The blockage stops the enzymes made by the pancreas from digesting foods. Undigested food sits in the intestine, causing pain. Nutrients in the food that should be absorbed go to waste.
Most people with CF take enzyme capsules, such as Creon or Pancreaze, every time they eat a meal or snack. The medicine helps digest the food and absorb the nutrients—preventing malnutrition, stomach pain, and embarrassing gas. Speak with your doctor about which option is right for you or your child.
Goal 4: Eat Healthy Food
Because people with CF have trouble getting enough nutrients, you have to make sure you or your child is eating healthy. Some of the problems of cystic fibrosis—such as weaker bones—can be avoided with nutrition. Many people with CF need as many as 50% more calories, so it’s important they eat right.
- Have healthy snacks on hand, both at home and on the go.
- Eat whenever you feel hungry.
- Always eat something at meal time, even if it’s only a few bites.
- Get plenty of calcium from milk, cheese, and yogurt.
- Ask your doctor which vitamins and supplements you should be taking.
- Collect recipes for meals that are healthy for people with CF.
Goal 5: Keep Hydrated
When a person with CF sweats, their sweat has extra salt in it. Not only do you lose the salt your body needs, the lack of salt buildup means you won’t feel thirsty when you need to drink more water. Infants, children, and adults with CF need to eat more salty foods and get plenty of fluids. You need to always carry extra water and salt for you or your child. Your doctor will help you know how much salt you need to be healthy.
Wanting to learn more about symptoms and treatments for cystic fibrosis? IV Solutions has what you want to know.
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Therapies for Cystic Fibrosis. February 14, 2012. Accessed March 4, 2015.
Ciprofloxacin. WebMD. Accessed March 4, 2015.
Tobramycin Injection. WebMD. Accessed March 4, 2015.
Cayston. Gilead. Accessed March 4, 2015.