Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis


What are the symptoms of cystic fibrosis?

The most common symptoms of cystic fibrosis include:

  • Defects in the glands that produce sweat (This may cause a loss of salt, which may result in an imbalance of minerals in the blood, abnormal heart rhythms and shock.)
  • Secretions that accumulate in the lungs and intestines (This may cause poor nutrition and growth, frequent respiratory infections, breathing difficulties and lung disease.)
  • Other medical problems, including:
    • Sinusitis
    • Nasal polyps
    • Clubbing of the fingers (a condition marked by rounding and enlargment of the ends of the fingers)
    • Pneumothorax (the presence of air or gas in the pleural cavity, causing the lungs to collapse)
    • Hemoptysis (coughing up blood)
    • Cor pulmonale (enlargement of right side of heart)
    • Abdominal pain
    • Gas in the intestines
    • Rectal prolapse (the final section of the large intestine—the rectum protrudes from the anus)
    • Liver disease
    • Diabetes
    • Pancreatitis
    • Gallstones
    • Sterility in males

The symptoms of CF differ for each child. Infants born with CF usually show symptoms within the first year. Some children may not show symptoms until later in life. Infants having the following symptoms may be tested for CF:

  • Diarrhea that does not go away
  • Foul-smelling stools
  • Greasy stools
  • Frequent episodes of wheezing
  • Frequent episodes of pneumonia
  • Persistent cough
  • Skin that tastes like salt
  • Poor growth
  • Chronic sinus infection

The symptoms of cystic fibrosis may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's doctor for a diagnosis.