What Is Cystic Fibrosis?

Cystic fibrosis is a disorder in which a person possesses a defective gene that causes mucus, sweat and digestive juices to be thick and sticky rather than thin and slippery, explains Mayo Clinic. The thick and sticky secretions can block tubes and ducts in organs such as the lungs and pancreas.

People who have cystic fibrosis inherited defective genes from both parents, while those who inherited the gene from only one parent are carriers of the condition but do not develop cystic fibrosis, states Mayo Clinic. White people of Northern European descent are most likely to suffer from cystic fibrosis, though people of other races may also be born with the condition. People suffering from cystic fibrosis may see changes in their symptoms over time, in some cases experiencing an improvement and in others an increase in severity.

People with cystic fibrosis display symptoms including repeated lung infections, a persistent cough with thick mucus, inflamed nasal passages, wheezing and shortness of breath, notes Mayo Clinic. Because thick mucus may block the tubes between the pancreas and small intestine, people with cystic fibrosis may be unable to absorb the nutrients in food and can suffer from severe constipation, poor weight gain and intestinal blockage. Complications from cystic fibrosis can lead to secondary conditions such as respiratory failure, chronic infections, distal intestinal obstruction syndrome and osteoporosis.