Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disorder that largely affects an individual’s lungs and their ability to breath. While the way in which Cystic Fibrosis affects the lungs is the biggest challenge posed by this genetic disorder, Cystic Fibrosis also affects other organs in the body, including the liver, intestines, pancreas, and kidneys. All of us have cells in our bodies that produce sweat, mucus, and digestive enzymes. In an individual without Cystic Fibrosis, these cells produce thin liquids in the body’s respiratory and digestive tracts, helping keep the body lubricated and, most importantly, helping rid the body of germs that could lead to infection. When an individual is born with Cystic Fibrosis, these cells secrete a much thicker liquid, and, rather than acting as a lubricant, these thicker secretions impede vital pathways in the body, resulting in difficulty of breathing and increased risk of infection. Cystic Fibrosis is a progressive disease, meaning it increases in severity as a person ages with this genetic disorder.
The activity levels of individuals living with Cystic Fibrosis are much lower in the average person. As a result of lower activity, Cystic Fibrosis often results in muscle atrophy, effecting the strength and mobility of affected individuals. Also, for reasons linked with respiratory and sinus infections, individuals with Cystic Fibrosis frequently suffer from hearing and vestibular loss as they age.
According to the Centre of Disease Control and Prevention, the early signs to watch for are:
- Stunted growth in children
- Unexplained weight gain in children
- Recurring cough that brings up thick mucus or blood
- Shortness of breath
- Frequent lung and sinus infections
- Bad smelling stools or constipation
Treating Cystic Fibrosis is complicated since there is no cure. However, treatments have developed significantly over the years. In the 1950s, an individual born with Cystic Fibrosis would not survive beyond one year of age. Now, the average life expectancy of an individual with Cystic Fibrosis is over 30 years old. SMILE’s intensive therapy treatments focus on the most effective treatment for Cystic Fibrosis, keeping the individual active and healthy. SMILE’s treatments will be dedicated to ensuring that the child will maximize their quality of life while living with Cystic Fibrosis. SMILE’s intensive therapies will be focused on keeping the child active, encouraging more airflow in the child’s respiratory system. Also, our Vestibular Rehabilitation therapy will help combat the hearing and vestibular loss that occurs in people living with Cystic Fibrosis.