The lungs are the most commonly affected organ in patients with CF but the damage to the airways only starts to occur after birth. The damage accumulates over time so infants and children with CF usually have few symptoms. Although CF lung disease is progressive, meaning that it worsens over time, the CF team can work with you to minimize this natural progression and maximize your lung function.
The symptoms of CF are all linked to the basic problem with thick mucus, which traps bacteria and blocks the airways.
A cough develops as the lungs try to find a way to clear mucus. In children, the cough occurs only with chest infections but as disease progresses, cough will occur daily.
The mucus (also called sputum or phlegm) produced may be clear, white, yellow, green or brown. The colour of the mucus depends on the number of bacteria and infection fighting cells it contains – healthy mucus is clear and thin. Increasing amounts of bacteria in the sputum make the sputum thicker and darker in colour. The sensation of shortness of breath can develop if the airways are plugged with mucous.