Cystic Fibrosis

What is the outlook for cystic fibrosis?

The symptoms and severity of CF vary. If you or your child has the disease, you may have serious lung and digestive problems. If the disease is mild, symptoms may not show up until the teen or adult years.

The symptoms and severity of CF also vary over time. Sometimes you'll have few symptoms. Other times, your symptoms may become more severe. As the disease gets worse, you'll have more severe symptoms more often.

Lung function often starts to decline in early childhood in people who have CF. Over time, damage to the lungs can cause severe breathing problems. Respiratory failure is the most common cause of death in people who have CF.

As treatments for CF continue to improve, so does life expectancy for those who have the disease. Today, some people who have CF are living into their forties or fifties, or longer.

Early treatment for CF can improve your quality of life and increase your lifespan. Treatments may include nutritional and respiratory therapies, medicines, exercise, and other treatments.

Your doctor also may recommend pulmonary rehabilitation (PR). PR is a broad program that helps improve the well-being of people who have chronic (ongoing) breathing problems.

Medically reviewed by James E Gerace, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Pulmonary Disease


"Cystic Fibrosis." NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. 1 June 2011.

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