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This information was reviewed and approved by Sara Brayshaw, RN, MSN (10/1/2019).

What are Signs and Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis?

Cystic fibrosis is a progressive disease that involves a number of different organs. Symptoms of cystic fibrosis can vary, depending age and disease severity. The severity of disease is largely determined by the specific CFTR mutations. Disease severity can also be related to the type of infections that are present in the airways and several “modifier” genes, which can cause CF symptoms.


People with CF can have a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Very salty-tasting skin
  • Persistent coughing, at times with phlegm
  • Frequent lung infections, including pneumonia or bronchitis
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Poor growth or weight gain in spite of a good appetite
  • Frequent greasy, bulky stools or difficulty with bowel movements
  • Male infertility


Medical Conditions Associated with Cystic Fibrosis

More than 75 percent of people with CF are diagnosed by age one, by state-run newborn screening programs. However, in people with less severe symptoms born before widespread implementation of newborn screening, the diagnosis may be delayed for decades.

Adults with cystic fibrosis may also develop:

  • Diabetes — blood sugar that is too high

  • Osteoporosis — weakened bones

  • Clubbing — rounded and enlarged ends of the toes and fingers


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