Cystic fibrosis symptoms in adults

Cystic fribrosis is a condition where the lungs, liver, kidneys, intestine and pancreas are affected. It is a genetic disorder. This condition can affect both adults and children. Early detection is key so that the symptoms are relieved and treated. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for this condition. We tell you cystic fibrosis symptoms in adults.

How it develops

Cystic fibrosis is actually a mutation of the genes where certain glands in the body produce abnormal secretions. As a result, tissues and organs in the lungs and digestive tract are damaged. Cystic fibrosis symptoms in adults are, as follows:

  • Salty-tasting skin

An adult affected with cystic fibrosis may have salty-tasting skin.

  • Poor weight

If you have the genetic disorder, you may fail to thrive even if you are eating properly.

  • Presence of thick, sticky mucus

There might be a persistent cough accompanied by thick mucus.

  • Recurring lung and chest infections

Those who are affected by the disease are more likely to experience lung and chest infections. This is because there is a continuous build up of bacteria in the chest which can lead to infections.

  • Digestive tract issues

The digestive tract of adults is also affected causing bulky and smelly stools, malabsorption of nutrients and even diabetes.

  • Sinuses

Adults who have cystic fibrosis are also prone to developing sinuses as well as ear and nose problems.

  • Infertility

In addition to the above, sufferers may also be infertile. In men, the tubes for transporting sperm are underdeveloped and in women, there might be thickening of the mucus preventing conception. Other causes include low weight and irregular menses.

  • Liver problems

Other adults can also develop problems with the liver as the bile ducts are blocked by the mucus. In serious cases, it might even require a liver transplant.


Cystic fibrosis symptoms in adults can be diagnosed by the following:

  • testing the amount of salt on the skin
  • genetic testing (finding 2 abrnomal cystic fibrosis genes)
  • stool analysis
  • pulmonary function tests and
  • carrier testing.

Treatment and management of cystic fibrosis depends on the severity of the symptoms and early detection, but may include use of antibiotics for bacterial infections, pulmonary rehab, chest physiotherapy and lung transplantation.

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