The build-up of sticky mucus in the lungs can cause breathing problems and increases the risk of lung infections. Over time, the lungs may stop working properly.
Mucus also clogs the pancreas (the organ that helps with digestion), which stops enzymes reaching food in the gut and helping with digestion.
This means most people with cystic fibrosis don’t absorb nutrients from food properly and need to eat more calories to avoid malnutrition.
Symptoms of cystic fibrosis include:
- recurring chest infections
- wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and damage to the airways (bronchiectasis)
- difficulty putting on weight and growing
- yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice)
- diarrhoea, constipation, or large, smelly poo
- a bowel obstruction in newborn babies (meconium ileus) – surgery may be needed