Definition of Cystic Fibrosis Pathophysiology and history of Cystic Fibrosis An explanation of the impact of Cystic Fibrosis on adults to the health care system and nursing practice. A description of the impact of Cystic fibrosis during childhood. A description of the impact of Cystic Fibrosis in adults. Explain why adults live into adulthood with this childhood condition or why adults would contract this childhood illness during adulthood. A validation of the health problem with demographic and health statistics, including citations of sources.

1. Definition of Cystic Fibrosis Pathophysiology:

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a chronic, progressive genetic disorder that affects multiple organs, most notably the lungs and digestive system. It is caused by mutations in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene, leading to dysfunction of the CFTR protein. The CFTR protein plays a crucial role in regulating the flow of chloride ions across cell membranes, affecting the production of normal mucus, sweat, and digestive enzymes.

The pathophysiology of CF begins with the defective CFTR protein, which leads to impaired chloride transport and subsequent abnormal mucus production in the airways and other affected organs. The abnormal mucus becomes thick and sticky, obstructing the airways and creating an ideal environment for bacterial colonization and recurrent infections. Continuous inflammation and structural damage to the airways cause progressive lung disease over time.

In addition to the lungs, CF also affects the exocrine glands, leading to dysfunction in the pancreas, liver, intestine, and reproductive organs. The pancreatic dysfunction results in insufficient production of digestive enzymes, leading to malabsorption and malnutrition. Other manifestations may include hepatobiliary disease, intestinal obstruction, and infertility.

2. History of Cystic Fibrosis:

Cystic fibrosis was first described in the medical literature in the 1930s, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that the underlying genetic cause was identified. The discovery of the CFTR gene revolutionized our understanding of CF and paved the way for genetic testing and targeted therapies.

Over the years, advancements in medical technology and improved knowledge of CF pathophysiology have significantly increased life expectancy and improved the quality of life for individuals with CF. In the 1950s, children with CF rarely survived beyond early childhood, whereas today, the median predicted survival age is in the late 40s.

3. Impact of Cystic Fibrosis on Adults and the Healthcare System:

As individuals with CF transition into adulthood, they face unique challenges that have a significant impact on both the healthcare system and nursing practice. The complex medical needs of adults with CF require a multidisciplinary approach, involving specialized healthcare providers, such as pulmonologists, gastroenterologists, and nurses with expertise in CF care.

The chronic nature of CF necessitates regular and comprehensive healthcare management, including routine monitoring of lung function, nutritional assessments, and preventive interventions to mitigate complications. This places a considerable burden on healthcare systems, necessitating the allocation of resources and specialized clinics dedicated to CF care.

Nursing practice is also impacted by CF, as nurses play a critical role in the management and coordination of care for individuals with CF. They provide education and support to patients and their families, facilitate adherence to complex treatment regimens, and ensure continuity of care across various healthcare settings.

4. Impact of Cystic Fibrosis during Childhood:

Cystic fibrosis has a significant impact on children. In the early years of life, CF mainly affects the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems. Children with CF are prone to recurrent lung infections, which can lead to chronic lung disease and progressive decline in pulmonary function. They often require frequent hospitalizations, aggressive respiratory treatments, and daily medications.

Digestive complications in childhood CF include malabsorption, failure to thrive, and meconium ileus in newborns. Nutritional deficiencies can result in delayed growth and development, requiring specialized dietary interventions, pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy, and monitoring of nutrient levels.

Despite these challenges, advancements in CF care have improved outcomes for children with CF, leading to increased life expectancy and improved overall health status. Early diagnosis, specialized treatment, and comprehensive management allow children with CF to lead more normal lives and engage in age-appropriate activities.

5. Impact of Cystic Fibrosis in Adults:

Contrary to the previous perception that CF was primarily a childhood disease, a significant number of individuals with CF now survive into adulthood. This is largely attributed to advancements in medical care, including improved treatments, better nutrition management, and increased focus on overall health and well-being.

Adults with CF continue to face respiratory complications, including recurrent infections, decline in lung function, and progressive lung disease. However, they are also prone to additional complications such as diabetes, osteoporosis, and liver disease, which may require specialized interventions and increased monitoring.

The management of CF in adulthood focuses on promoting respiratory health, managing complications, optimizing nutrition and digestion, and providing psychosocial support. Individualized care plans, regular check-ups, and multidisciplinary coordination are essential for maintaining the overall health and well-being of adults with CF.

6. Explanation of adults living into adulthood with CF or acquiring it during adulthood:

The increasing number of adults living with CF can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, advancements in genetics and newborn screening programs have led to earlier detection and intervention, allowing for improved management of CF from infancy. Secondly, improvements in medical treatments and therapies have significantly enhanced the long-term survival and quality of life for individuals with CF. Thirdly, the concept of CF as solely a childhood disease has been challenged, leading to improved care and support services for adults with CF.

In some cases, adults can develop CF later in life due to a milder form of the disease or atypical CFTR gene mutations. This delayed diagnosis may be a result of symptoms being mistaken for other conditions or late-onset presentation of CF symptoms.

Overall, the increased lifespan of individuals with CF is a testament to the progress made in understanding and managing this complex genetic disorder. However, it also highlights the need for ongoing research, improved access to care, and specialized interventions to address the unique challenges faced by adults with CF.

7. Validation of the health problem with demographic and health statistics:

Cystic fibrosis affects approximately 70,000 individuals worldwide and is most prevalent among individuals of Northern European descent. The incidence of CF varies across different populations, with a current estimate of approximately 1 in 3,500 to 1 in 5,000 live births in the United States.

The survival rates for individuals with CF have significantly improved over the past few decades. In the 1960s, the median predicted survival age was around 10 years, whereas today, it has increased to the late 40s. This improvement can be attributed to advancements in medical care, including the development of specialized CF clinics, early detection through newborn screening, and targeted therapies.


1. Elborn, J. S. (2016). Cystic fibrosis. The Lancet, 388(10059), 2519-2531.
2. Singh, S. B., & Jilling, T. (2017). Cystic Fibrosis: Gastrointestinal Disease and Nutrition. Gastroenterology Clinics of North America, 46(1), 109-124.
3. Ratjen, F., Bell, S. C., Rowe, S. M., Goss, C. H., Quittner, A. L., Bush, A., & Davies, J. C. (2015). Cystic fibrosis. Nature Reviews Disease Primers, 1, 15010.

Do you need us to help you on this or any other assignment?

Make an Order Now