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Cystic fibrosis is a complex and progressive genetic disease that affects the lungs, digestive tract and other organs. Symptoms and severity of the disease can vary widely among people with cystic fibrosis.

Cystic fibrosis can lead to respiratory symptoms such as a mucus-producing cough; wheezing; fatigue and shortness of breath and chronic sinusitis. The disease can cause mucus to clog the airways, trapping bacteria that can cause infections, inflammation, respiratory failure and other problems.

While most cystic fibrosis patients are diagnosed before the age of two, some are diagnosed as adults.

The board-certified physicians at Pulmonary Consultants of San Antonio are experts in caring for patients with cystic fibrosis, providing customized treatment plans and helping them achieve the best quality of life possible.

Click here to request an appointment or call us at 210-692-0361.

Questions & Answers

What is cystic fibrosis?

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disease in which a defective gene causes serious damage within the lungs and digestive organs. People with cystic fibrosis produce thick and sticky mucus, sweat, and digestive fluids.

The fluids can’t flow normally, leading to clogs within the lungs. Some people also experience clogs in their pancreas.

In most cases, cystic fibrosis diagnosis occurs early, with more than 75% of people receiving a diagnosis before the age of two.

What are the symptoms of cystic fibrosis?

More than 2,000 genetic mutations can cause cystic fibrosis, so it’s a very complicated disease that can cause widely varying symptoms. Some of the most common issues include:

  • Mucus-producing cough
  • Wheezing
  • Getting exhausted quickly when exercising
  • Recurrent lung infections
  • Nasal passage inflammation
  • Stuffy nose
  • Chronic sinusitis

Respiratory symptoms can worsen significantly over time. Some people have acute exacerbations, in which their respiratory symptoms get much worse. Eventually, cystic fibrosis could cause respiratory failure, and it can be life-threatening.

Along with the respiratory symptoms, some people with cystic fibrosis also have digestive issues, like greasy stools, smelly stools, malnutrition, chronic constipation, and difficulty gaining weight.

Some adults have complications like cystic fibrosis-related diabetes, liver disease, and osteoporosis as well.

How is cystic fibrosis diagnosed?

All newborns receive cystic fibrosis screening in America. This usually involves a blood test. Some babies also need a sweat test and may need advanced genetic testing.

If you have the symptoms of cystic fibrosis and didn’t undergo screening at birth, the Pulmonary Consultants of San Antonio team can perform sweat, blood, pulmonary function, or mucus tests. You may also need a chest X-ray or a CT scan.

Some people may need a bronchoscopy, a procedure in which the team views your lung passages from within your body. Bronchoscopy can also be a way to administer treatment, for example removing extra mucus from your airways.

These tests can identify cystic fibrosis while ruling out other conditions with similar symptoms, like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, and chronic bronchitis.

How is cystic fibrosis treated?

Your treatment plan depends on your particular symptoms and the level of damage in your lungs and other organs. You may need:

  • Inhalers to open your airways
  • Antibiotics for lung infections
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce airway swelling
  • Medications to thin out mucus
  • Acid-reducing medications
  • Enzymes to improve nutrient absorption
  • Stool softeners
  • Chest physical therapy
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine at night

If your cystic fibrosis occurs because of a mutation in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene, you may also take a CFTR modulator to help the faulty gene work better.

These are just a few of the many different ways you can manage your cystic fibrosis and improve your quality of life. The Pulmonary Consultants of San Antonio team offers the best in cystic fibrosis care, so call the office or schedule your appointment online.

10007 Huebner Road, Bldg 4
San Antonio, TX 78240
FAX: 210-692-0151

Monday: 8am-4:30pm
Tuesday: 8am-4:30pm
Wednesday: 8am-4:30pm
Thursday: 8am-4:30pm
Friday: 8am-4:30pm
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: Closed