CHOC Children's

Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis

What are the symptoms of cystic fibrosis?

The following are the most common symptoms for cystic fibrosis. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • abnormalities in the glands that produce sweat and mucus
    This may cause a loss of salt. A loss of salt may cause an upset in the balance of minerals in the blood, abnormal heart rhythms, and, possibly, shock.
  • thick mucus that accumulates in the lungs and intestines
    This may cause malnutrition, poor growth, frequent respiratory infections, breathing difficulties, and/or lung disease.
  • other medical problems, such as:
    • sinusitis
    • nasal polyps
    • clubbing of fingers and toes (a condition marked by the ends of the fingers and toes become enlarged; more prevalent in the fingers)
    • pneumothorax (the presence of air or gas in the plural cavity causing the lung to collapse)
    • hemoptysis (coughing up blood)
    • cor pulmonale (enlargement of right side of heart)
    • abdominal pain
    • gas in the intestines
    • rectal prolapse
    • liver disease
    • diabetes
    • pancreatitis
    • gallstones
    • sterility in males

As stated above, the symptoms of CF differ for each child. Infants born with CF usually show symptoms within the first year. Some children, though, may not show symptoms until later in life. The following symptoms may indicate CF, and infants having these signs may be tested for CF:

  • diarrhea that does not go away
  • foul-smelling stools
  • greasy stools
  • frequent episodes of wheezing
  • frequent episodes of pneumonia
  • persistent cough
  • skin tastes like salt
  • poor growth
  • chronic sinus infection

The symptoms of cystic fibrosis may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

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It is important to remember the health information found on this website is for reference only not intended to replace the advice and guidance of your healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.

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