The Link between Cystic Fibrosis and Pseudomonas Infection
It is hardly surprising that cystic fibrosis patients get infected with the pseudomonas bacterium because it often attacks patients whose immune systems have been very much weakened. Only two types of patients fit the bill very nicely, them being AIDS patients and cystic fibrosis patients.
The culprit behind the pseudomonas infection in cystic fibrosis patients is a species of bacteria called Pseudomonas aeruginosa. It is a common bacterial type that seldom causes ailments in healthy human beings.
The Characteristics of Pseudomonas aeruginosa
The P. aeruginosa bacteria have a rod-like shape and appear pearlescent when viewed under a microscope. They are common in the sense that they are found almost everywhere – in the soil, in water, in plants and in animals. They smell like grapes and they come in different colors, namely blue-green, red-brown and yellow-green.
One notorious trait of the P. aeruginosa is its ability to cling to the cell lining of the lungs and to create proteins that can lead to its damage. The P. aeruginosa bacterium is an anaerobic bacterium, meaning that it does not require a lot of oxygen or food.
Resistant to antibiotics
In addition to these traits, the P. aeruginosa has the capability to create a protective shell around itself, called a biofilm. This makes it very resistant to a wide range of antibiotics.
Why the P. aeruginosa Loves the Cystic Fibrosis Patient’s Lungs
Everyone plays host to a small colony of bacteria living in his or her body since birth. People with cystic fibrosis tend to have more bacteria in their bodies because they secrete abnormal levels of mucus in their respiratory tract. The layers of mucus in the respiratory tract of a cystic fibrosis patient are perfect breeding grounds for bacteria, especially the pseudomonas type.
When the P. aeruginosa colonize these mucus layers in the lungs, they damage the cell lining of the lungs. Ironically, the lungs respond to this attack by sending white blood cells, which secrete even more mucus to protect the lining. The P. aeruginosa later on develop their biofilms, which protect them from attacks by the body’s immune cells as well as by antibiotics.
Symptoms of Pseudomonas Infection in Cystic Fibrosis Patients
A person with cystic fibrosis can acquire pseudomonas infection through contact with a carrier. When little was still known about cystic fibrosis and the effect of the P. aeruginosa, there was often an outbreak of infection among patients who attended gatherings with other patients, such as those in specialized clinics and CF camps.
A person afflicted with the pseudomonas infection as a result of his vulnerability caused by cystic fibrosis will display the following symptoms:
- Difficulty in breathing,
- Lack of appetite,
- Weight loss,
- A blue tinge may be present on the skin,
- The patient’s abdomen may be slightly enlarged, and
- Lung failure
It is very important for patients to be treated as soon as possible when pseudomonas is detected in the lungs. This can be done through the administration of antibiotics, such as inhaled Tobi or Tobramicyn. Unfortunately, more often than not pseudomonas infection becomes chronic in cystic fibrosis patients.
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.