Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis
Nearly half of all CF patients also develop diabetes as a result of the disease. Diabetes occurs when blood glucose levels (also called blood sugar) are too high. There are two types, and cystic fibrosis-related diabetes shares some traits with both type 1 and type 2. The sticky, thick mucus seen in CF damages the pancreas, leading to insufficient insulin production, much like in type 1 diabetes. CF patients are also known to be insulin-resistant, which is a hallmark of type 2.
Digestive System Issues
Because patients’ airways and lungs are often affected by abnormal mucus accumulation, the disease can cause serious problems with the digestive system. As the sticky mucus builds in digestive track organs, it can cause intestinal blockages in CF patients, especially in newborns and infants. Many CF patients, including children, have poor weight gain and growth because they are unable to get enough nutrients from their food.
Osteoporosis and Osteopenia
People with CF are vulnerable to osteopenia and osteoporosis. Osteopenia is a common bone disease in which bones have fewer minerals and are weak; it often leads to osteoporosis, which is a condition where the bones are less thick or dense and are weaker, leading to a higher risk of fractures. Osteopenia generally happens before osteoporosis. It can happen at any age, but in people with CF, it is more common in the late teens and in adults.
Respiratory System Issues
The accumulation of thick mucus in the lungs is a typical characteristic of CF, causing lung infections and other respiratory system symptoms. Thick, sticky mucus in the lungs creates an environment that is favorable for the growth of bacteria. This can lead to chronic lung infections like pneumonia and bronchitis. The most common bacteria associated with CF lung infections is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, strains of which have become increasingly resistant to antibiotics.
Reproductive System Issues
Puberty can often be delayed in CF patients, and infertility is a common problem. Males are often born without the vas deferens, a tube that delivers sperm from the testicles, or this tube can become blocked by mucus. Women will frequently experience irregular periods due to poor nutrition and may have problems conceiving. This can be exacerbated by complications such as when mucus blocks the cervix.