Cystic fibrosis (CF), also called mucoviscidosis, is an inherited life-threatening disorder that causes severe lung damage and nutritional deficiencies.
CF causes the body to produce abnormally thick and sticky mucus, saliva, sweat, and digestive enzymes. In healthy individuals, these secretions serve as lubricants in the body. In CF patients, the secretions are so thick that they plug up tubes and passageways in the body. The lungs and pancreas are the most commonly affected organs in CF patients.
The disease is most common among Caucasians. Researchers estimate that one out of 3,500 Caucasians in the United States is born with CF. About one out of 15,000 African Americans, one out of 9,200 Latinos, and one out of 31,000 Asian Americans are born with the disease in the United States.
Complications of CF, including lung infections and nutritional deficiencies, can be fatal. Patients with CF typically die earlier than individuals who do not have the condition. The average life expectancy of CF patients is 35 years old.
There is currently no cure for CF. Instead, treatment focuses on reducing symptoms and preventing complications.
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