Cystic fibrosis, or CF, is an inherited disease of the secretory glands that leads to thick and sticky mucus. When this mucus builds up in the lungs, it can block airways and make it difficult to breathe.
The mucus can also block tubes in the pancreas. As a result, the digestive enzymes that your pancreas makes can’t reach your small intestine. The result is vitamin deficiency and malnutrition because nutrients pass through your body without being used. You also may have bulky stools, intestinal gas, a swollen belly from severe constipation, and pain or discomfort.
The symptoms and severity of CF vary. Sometimes you may have few symptoms. Other times, your symptoms may become more severe. As the disease gets worse, you’ll have more severe symptoms more often.
Lung function often starts to decline in early childhood in people who have CF. Damage to the lungs can lead to severe breathing problems, and respiratory failure is the most common cause of death in people who have CF.