The Prognosis of Cystic Fibrosis Remains Positive
Despite the significant developments made in cystic fibrosis (CF) research during the last few decades, a cure hasn’t been discovered yet. However, the prognosis is now much better than it used to be. Patients can now face increased life expectancy, living many years as adults.
The Previous Outlook on Cystic Fibrosis
Not such a long time ago, the diagnosis of cystic fibrosis meant an early death. Folklore in Germany spoke of a saying that, “A child who tastes like salt when kissed on the forehead will soon die.” Before the 1950s, the prognosis on CF was so negative that doctors hardly believed that a child with this condition could live beyond seven years of age.
That was because too little was known about cystic fibrosis, and even less was known on ways to treat it. Often, cases of cystic fibrosis went misdiagnosed as pneumonia, whooping cough or chronic bronchitis. The mistake would not be caught until it was too late.
New Discoveries Mean Changes in Outlook
Regardless of the negativity displayed by doctors when it comes to cystic fibrosis, many doctors came to care enough to find new information about the disease. Their efforts certainly did not go unrewarded, as continuous research over the decades yielded many significant discoveries on the causes and workings of CF, as well as in better ways of treating it.
Among the many positive finding that resulted from constant research on the disease, scientists discovered the connection between the thick secretions of mucus in the respiratory lining and the lack of enzymes produced by the pancreas.
The most significant discovery in the field of cystic fibrosis research was the finding of the cystic fibrosis trans-membrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene. This discovery enables researchers to study the workings of cystic fibrosis at the base level and gain more understanding of it.
Current Prognosis on Cystic Fibrosis
Researchers on cystic fibrosis are still a long way from finding a cure for the disease. Nonetheless, they have come up with many significant advances that allowed for better means of diagnosing and treating patients.
Because of the hereditary nature of CF, it has now become possible to test would-be parents for the potential to bear children with this condition. New information has also enabled doctors to detect cystic fibrosis in children even before they are born.
Doctors now understand the need for antibiotics to fight infection in cystic fibrosis lungs. Purpose is to minimize permanent lung damage caused by infections, which ultimately leads to lung failure.
CF sufferers need, complementary to the medications, daily physical therapy to dislodge sticky mucus and keep the lungs as clear as possible for normal breathing.
Researchers also discovered an important link between growth rate and life expectancy. Poor weight gain is no longer an option for CF children and so adequate nutrition became very important for patients. This helps them to be strong to remain healthy as long as possible.
The genetic nature of cystic fibrosis has also led to research of gene replacement therapy to correct defects in the CFTR gene in persons with cystic fibrosis. Unfortunately no positive results were made so far.
Finally, patients can now look forward to a lung transplant when their CF lungs fail. A lot of patients have been transplanted in western world and their life expectancy is increasing every day.
If in the first half of the 1900s, the prognosis for CF has been dismal, today, it is very much positive. The life expectancy for people with cystic fibrosis has increased almost by a tenfold over the decades and it will continue this path in the future.
Disclaimer: This website provides general information about cystic fibrosis and in no means should be taken as a medical or health advice. Please consult your doctor before acting on any of its information.