Cystic Fibrosis and the Respiratory System

 

How does cystic fibrosis affect the respiratory system?

In the respiratory system, secretions are normally thin and can easily be cleared by the airways. With cystic fibrosis (CF), they become thickened and sticky, and airways may become blocked. Eventually, larger air passages become plugged, and significant lung damage develops.

Normal lung secretions do not harbor bacteria, but bacteria such as staphylococcus aureus and pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) are often found in the thickened secretions of children with CF. Thus, chronic colonization and lung infections are common.

Children with CF also have problems in the upper respiratory tract. Some individuals have nasal polyps that need to be surgically removed. Nasal polyps are small protrusions of tissue from the lining of the nose that can block the nasal passage. Children with CF also have a high rate of sinus infections.

CF symptoms in the respiratory system include:

  • Chronic cough
  • Coughing up blood
  • Collapsed lung
  • Clubbing of the fingers (rounding and enlargement)
  • Nasal polyps (fleshy growths in the nose)
  • Sinusitis (inflamed or infected nasal sinuses)