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How cystic fibrosis affects one’s body
The effect of cystic fibrosis (CF) on various parts of the body:
The thick mucus builds up in the airways. This mucus traps germs and causes severe lung infections. Breathlessness starts, which can be fatal at times. Wheezing and persistent cough which produces mucus is a recurring problem if you are affected with cystic fibrosis. As the mucus is very thick, a stuffy nose and sinuses are common.
The thick mucus blocks the ducts in the pancreas. This stops the digestive enzymes from reaching the intestine. The digestive enzymes are the proteins that break down the food. As a result, the body cannot absorb enough nutrients for its needs. This causes the feces to be large, loose, and foul-smelling. This condition is called pancreatic insufficiency and occurs in about 85% of people with cystic fibrosis.
The amount of body salts lost in sweat is higher for those with CF. This can cause problems during times of increased sweating, like during exercising. As the salt is not reabsorbed if you are affected with CF, the skin will feel sticky and taste salty.
If the bile duct becomes clogged the liver can get inflamed, leading to cirrhosis. The small intestine can also get damaged due to high-acid foods which come from the stomach as it cannot be broken down easily. The lining of the small intestine can get damaged.
The thick secretions in the stomach can make the feces thick. This can cause blockages which may result in the intestine folding inside itself. This is called intussusception.
Chronic coughing will weaken the bladder muscles and lead to a condition called stress incontinence. This is a condition where you leak urine when you cough or sneeze or when you lift something heavy. This condition is more common in women, affecting around 65% of women. However, even men are prone to it.
Due to the hardening of the fluids, some people with CF get kidney stones. These are painful and can lead to severe kidney infections.
People with cystic fibrosis have normal reproductive organs, but they may have fertility-related problems. About 95% of males and 20% of females with cystic fibrosis are infertile. In men, the tube that carries the sperm from the testicles to the penis can get blocked. This tube is called vas deferens. A man with CF can have a normal erection and ejaculation, but the semen may not contain sperms. This results in infertility. In women, thick mucus blocks the cervix, which is the opening to the uterus. This blockage may stop the sperm from reaching the egg for fertilization.
Cystic fibrosis can lead to osteoporosis and muscle weakness. This is because it affects the absorption of minerals by the body. This negative effect on the mineral balance in the body can cause low blood pressure, fatigue, a fast heart rate, and a general feeling of weakness.