Cystic fibrosis is a hereditary condition brought on by a recessive gene in both parents. The child of these parents can only get CF if she inherits the gene from both parents. This disease causes a gene mutation that affects the sweat glands, pancreas, reproductive system and, most importantly, the lungs.
Effects on the Lungs
Cysitc fibrosis affects the lungs by producing a thick, sticky mucous. While mucous is meant to expel germs from the body, the consistency of CF mucous is such that it becomes a breeding ground for various types of bacteria, leading to recurring infections of Staphylococcus aureus, Haemophilus influenzae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Age as a Factor
While younger CF patients are generally better equipped to deal with the recurring infections, these infections will damage the lungs more as the CF patient ages. This will lead to increased fatigue, decreased excessive resistance and frequent shortness of breath.
In the case of cystic fibrosis patients, both lungs must be transplanted. This is because both lungs contain bacteria, so if one healthy lung is transplanted, it will immediately become infected. Depending on the severity of the patient's CF, other organs such as the pancreas may also be transplanted.
Most CF patient who receive a long transplant live much longer than they would have if they had not gotten the transplant. The patient must take immuno-suppressive drugs for the rest of his life in order to keep his body from rejecting the organs.