Q:

What causes cystic fibrosis?

A:

Quick Answer

According to WebMD, cystic fibrosis is a hereditary disease. As the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute explains, the disease is caused by a defect in the CFTR gene that controls the movement of water and salt in and out of cells. In people with cystic fibrosis, the CFTR gene makes protein that does not function properly, causing sticky and thick mucus.

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Full Answer

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, all children inherit two CFTR genes, one from each parent. Children who inherit two faulty CFTR genes are born with cystic fibrosis, while children born with one faulty CFTR gene and one healthy CFTR gene are considered cystic fibrosis carriers and can potentially pass on the disease to their offspring.

WebMD explains that cystic fibrosis can affect multiple organs, with common symptoms including breathing abnormalities, such as shortness of breath and persistent cough, and obstruction of the pancreas and intestines, which can result in poor growth. The disease progresses slowly and frequently causes chronic lung damage that leads to life-threatening complications.

As of 2014, there is no cure for cystic fibrosis, according to Mayo Clinic. The goals of treatment are to prevent complications and ease symptoms by controlling lung infections, removing mucus from the lungs, alleviating intestinal blockage and providing proper nutrition.

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