Cystic Fibrosis Treatment

image001 Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a life threatening and dangerous genetic disease. Cystic fibrosis occurs due to the faulty gene that mainly affects movement of salt or sodium chloride in and away from certain cells. The condition affects children leading to heavy sticky mucus, thickened digestive system and salty sweat. Usually, these heavy secretions can clog the lungs leading to breathing difficulty in children with this condition. In addition, the lung infections may also kick in since the thick mucus provides desirable conditions for bacterial growth, which eventually may lead to severe lung infection. Digestive problems can also be caused by the thickened digestive juices. When they are not able to reach the small intestine from the pancreas carrying out the digestion functions, the child’s growth may also be compromised greatly. So, what are the cystic fibrosis treatments and how do they work?

How Is Cystic Fibrosis Diagnosed?

The test to diagnose cystic fibrosis is performed in a hospital where blood from the baby’s heel is tested. In some states, all the newborns are tested for cystic fibrosis; however, not all these screenings rule out the possibility of your baby having cystic fibrosis. If you suspect that your newborn might be having this condition even after screening, it may be because of its prevalence in your family or certain symptoms that may indicate a possibility of this condition. The doctor may carry out a definitive test for cystic fibrosis called sweat test.

The sweat test is quick and not painful at all, the doctor uses a drug called pilocarpine which stimulates sweating at a certain spot on the arm. A filter paper is then placed on that area to absorb the sweat which is then tested for sodium chloride content. If the results show a much higher level than normal, then automatically the baby is said to have cystic fibrosis. In addition, a family history of cystic fibrosis and other tests can also be used to diagnose this condition such as X-ray, saliva or blood genetic tests, lung-function test as well as stool examination for any digestive problems. In some cases, genetic testing may also be done in couples planning on a pregnancy to determine if either of them is a career of this disease so as not to pass it to the baby.

If you baby shows poor growth and they are prone to sinus or lung infections or even both, it could be sign of cystic fibrosis. However, the only standard test for this condition is the quantitative sweat chloride test and measures the amount of the salt in sweat. It may seem difficult to do sweat test on a new born, because they don’t sweat easily. Immunoreactive trypsinogen test (IRT) can be used for newborns. With this test, blood is drawn with an aim of examining the trypsinogen. Confirmation of positive IRT test can be done with a sweat test or genetic test.

What Are Cystic Fibrosis Treatments?

1. For Lung Problems

Mostly, the doctors will mainly focus on prevention of lung infections; they will carry out regular Chest Physiotherapy (CPT), commonly known as percussion and postural drainage. It aids in loosening the mucus in the lungs while easing coughing. CPT is usually done by clapping on someone’s back with cupped hand and usually is done twice a day. Vibrating vest can also be used especially in children, although it is a little bit expensive. Regular exercises as well as antibiotics, mucus-thinning drugs and anti-inflammatory drugs are recommended as well. In addition, a pulmonary rehabilitation may also be advised by the doctor.

Look for more information about how to take a physical therapy for babies in cystic fibrosis:

2. For Digestive Problems

When someone has cystic fibrosis, they will need to take a very balanced diet that is high in calories and proteins. Due to the problems of absorption, they should be given 150 percent of the recommended dietary allowance to meet their needs for growth. They need to take multivitamins and other supplements. These people ought to take pancreatic enzymes before every meal or any snack they consume. In addition to these, extra enzymes can also be added to aid in digestion. Children with severe conditions may need special formulas which may be fed using a tube or rarely using the vein. Mucus-thinning medicines and enemas can be used for treating intestinal blockages, and sometimes surgery may be required. The doctor might also prescribe some medicines to help reduce stomach acid and also aid pancreatic enzymes in their functions.

3. Gene Therapy

This therapy method offers the best solution for handling cystic fibrosis since it does not just treat it but attacks it. For example, the drug called Kalydeco is used for this purposes and it has been approved for about six years.

4. Transplant

Sometimes the lung transplants may be the only option and it has worked well in some people with this condition.

5. Treatment for Complications

The common complication that comes with CF is diabetes which diabetes requires a more different treatment as compared to the normal treatment. In addition to this, there is the bone-thinning disorder osteoporosis for which the doctor can give prescriptions of medicines that can be used to prevent lowering of bone density.

Important Notes: Ongoing Care

It’s important to have ongoing care especially from the nurses, doctors, and respiratory therapists who have specialized in CF after regular cystic fibrosis treatments. You can find them at any medical centers or CF care centers. Checkups should be undertaken every 3 months and sometimes a vaccination is needed. Flu shot can also be very important as well , but you can see the doctor if you have the following:

  • Increased or bloody mucus as well as change in the color or consistency of mucus
  • Reduced appetite or energy
  • Severe diarrhea or abdominal pain and dark green vomit
  • Severe fever

Home Remedies for Cystic Fibrosis

Apart from the cystic fibrosis treatments mentioned above, there are also some remedies which you can apply at home to help with the condition.

1. From Pediatric Care to Adult Care

If you realize that your child has this condition, it’s good as a parent to tell your child about the condition as they grow up to adulthood. This ensures that the child is able to take active role in the treatment. By doing this, it prepares your child for the transition from child to adult care. CF medical centers can also be of great help in ensuring a smooth transition.

2. Change Lifestyle

If you are on regular medical checkup, you can practice a healthy lifestyle, follow a healthy diet and change some other habits such as:

  • Washing hands regularly to lower chances of infection
  • Drinking lots of fluids and exercising regularly
  • Doing chest physical therapy as per your doctor’s recommendation.

In addition to this, mild acute pulmonary exacerbations of CF can be treated at home successfully with the following procedures:

  • Increasing frequency of airway clearance
  • Inhalation of bronchodilators
  • Postural drainage and chest physical therapy
  • Use of oral antibiotics such as oral fluoroquinolones.

3. Exercise

When you engage in aerobic exercises that make you breathe harder, they can loosen the mucus so that you can cough it up, and also it improves your general physical condition. The CF also causes your sweat to be salty thus losing a lot of salt through sweat. You can also include a relatively high salt diet to ensure that there is salt balance.

Here is a video to share with you about how a boy lives with cystic fibrosis: