Cystic fibrosis is a condition characterized by the production of thick sticky mucus. This thick mucus can build up in the lungs or the gut, causing breathing and gut problems. Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease inherited from both parents. Most people with cystic fibrosis find out in childhood. The condition has no cure and the goal of treatment is to make life comfortable and prevent complications.
Cystic fibrosis can have both social and health effects on your life. The following are ways that cystic fibrosis may affect you:
- Frequent chest infections.
- Difficulty breathing and recurrent cough (with or without blood).
- Problems digesting food which thereby causes large and smelly stools.
- Constipation or diarrhoea.
- Malnutrition and bone disorders due to inability to get nutrients from food.
- Problems that may occur in the long term include clubbing of finger and toenails, liver disease and infertility.
Currently, there is no cure cystic fibrosis. However, limiting how it affects your life by preventing or reducing symptoms is possible. The following are things you can do to live better with cystic fibrosis:
- Work closely with your healthcare providers: you will require the services of various healthcare experts such as dieticians, therapists, specialist doctors and nurses. Working with all of them will keep you informed and help you get the best out of your treatments.
- Understand your illness: cystic fibrosis can be confusing, especially in this part of the world where it is not well-known. You need to seek information and read as much as possible about it to understand your treatment options and advocate for yourself.
- Stay active: it is essential to do regular physical activities like walking, running or other exercises according to your limits. Always discuss new routines with your healthcare provider before you start them.
- Eat a healthy balanced diet: cystic fibrosis may make digestion of some foods difficult. You may need to work with a nutritionist on a proper diet for this condition. You may also be given some drugs to help you digest these foods better.
- Drink a lot of water: this will prevent dehydration and it will help reduce the mucus, so it doesn't block your lungs or guts.
- Avoid smoking: do not smoke and avoid staying around people that smoke. Smoking increases the risk of infections.
- Get vaccinated: make sure you get all your vaccinations, especially the pneumococcal vaccine. This is not part of routine immunization, but you can get it for a fee at all primary healthcare centres.
- Find support: it is crucial to find people you can confide in because living with cystic fibrosis can be lonely. Using the internet, you can connect with people with similar conditions all over the world.
Cystic fibrosis is rare in this part of the world, and as a result, not many people know about it. You can go on to live a healthy and comfortable life with this condition. Follow the advice of your healthcare providers, follow the tips listed above and get as much correct information as you can about the disease. Chest exercises like pounding your chest or back can also be of help to loosen the mucus build up so you can cough it out. You can repeat this up to eight times a day.