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Causes of Cystic Fibrosis

The article delves into the causes and complications of Cystic Fibrosis that you should be aware of.

  • 11 Oct 2023
  • 2 min read

Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening disease in which thick, sticky mucus builds up in vital organs like the lungs, digestive tract, and other parts of the body. In cystic fibrosis, cells that produce body fluids (sweat, mucous) and digestive juices get affected. Instead of producing thin and slippery fluid, these cells start producing thick and sticky secretions. Body fluids produced in the body usually act as lubricants, but in cystic fibrosis, increased thickness of fluid clogs tubes and ducts, mainly in the lungs. People suffering from cystic fibrosis require daily care to live a better life. Let us look at some of the main causes of cystic fibrosis.


How is Cystic Fibrosis Caused?

Cystic fibrosis can be caused by any of the following:

  • Cystic fibrosis is caused by a faulty cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator gene inherited from parents. This faulty gene results in a change in the protein that controls the motion of salt in and out of cells.
  • Changes in the protein result in the formation of sticky mucous, digestive juices, and increased salt content in the sweat.
  • Cystic fibrosis is caused by a type of recessive gene, which means that in order to have the disease, a child needs to inherit one copy of the faulty gene from both parents.
  • If a person has only one copy of the gene, then disease does not develop, and the person is called the carrier of the disease.
  • Complications of the respiratory system
  • Damage to the airways is one the main causes of cystic fibrosis
  • Other symptoms of the respiratory tract include polyp growth in the nose, coughing up blood, pneumothorax, and respiratory failure.
  • Complications of the digestive system
  • Nutritional deficiencies- The buildup of thick mucus can clog the tubes that carry digestive enzymes from the pancreas to the intestine. In the absence of enzymes, the body cannot absorb vital nutrients, which in turn results in weight loss, growth retardation, and pancreatitis.
  • Cystic fibrosis also increases the risk of developing diabetes.
  • Other complications include the development of liver diseases, cirrhosis, gallstones, and intestinal obstruction.
  • Complications of the reproductive system
  • Male infertility: The tube that connects the prostrate to the testes is either not present or is blocked with thick mucus in males suffering from cystic fibrosis. Therefore, all males suffering from cystic fibrosis are infertile.
  • Decreased female fertility: Females suffering from cystic fibrosis have reduced fertility in comparison to normal females. Although females suffering from the disease can conceive, pregnancy can exacerbate the symptoms of cystic fibrosis.
  • Other complications of the disease include osteoporosis (thinning of the bones), electrolyte imbalance, and mental health problems.
  • If close relatives are suffering from cystic fibrosis, it is good to do the genetic testing before having children to prevent the disease.

Cystic fibrosis symptoms and warning signs vary depending on the severity of the disease. In some people, symptoms do not appear until teenage or adulthood. People who are not diagnosed with the disease until adulthood usually have mild symptoms like pancreatitis, infertility, and recurring pneumonia. It is important for you to get the right diagnosis and treatment at the right time. Check your health insurance for whether it includes coverage for Cystic Fibrosis and other similar conditions. 



Cystic fibrosis is a disease caused by two copies of a faulty gene. In this disease, instead of thin and slimy mucus, thick and sticky mucus is produced that can clog the airways, digestive tract tubes, and tubes of other organs. Cystic fibrosis can lead to respiratory problems, digestive system problems, and infertility in males and females. Knowing the causes of cystic fibrosis is beneficial for better understanding of the condition. To prevent the disease, it is beneficial to undergo genetic testing before having children.

The above blog aims to provide general information about health and related topics. Any information provided in this blog, website or in any linked materials is not intended and should not be considered, or used as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is important that you contact your Doctor before starting a new medicine or health regime.

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