Cystic Fibrosis: Treatment Methods

While there’s no cure for cystic fibrosis, people with CF can enjoy an active, normal life while adhering to their treatment plan formulated by the doctor. These treatments ease symptoms and help people of all ages feel better, breathe easier, have fewer infections or stomach problems, get enough nutrients, and ultimately, live longer.


Inhalation
This treatment uses a special device called a compressor which turns the medication into a very fine mist and allows the person to breathe it in directly to the lungs. CF impacts the deep, inner airways, so only a select few compressors produce a small enough particle size to reach these areas. Inhaled drugs, like dornase alfa (Pulmozyme), albuterol, salt solution, steroids, or antibiotics, thin mucus, clear the lungs, and fight infections.


Physical Therapy
Physical therapy helps drain the liquid from the lungs, by teaching special breathing methods. There are many airway clearance techniques, and special devices can help. A person with CF should also exercise at least three times a week, which helps clear the lungs. Exercise may induce wheezing, but that’s not a bad sign.


Diet
It’s important to eat right. People with CF should make sure to eat foods with good fats and lots of protein. After exercising, it is recommended to eat food with sodium. CF children need to watch their weight – they have to make sure they don’t lose weight, especially if they are experiencing vomiting and diarrhea. They need a lot of vitamins, especially of A, D, and E, to replace the nutrients the intestines can’t absorb; and should make sure they are taking the correct amount of pancreatic enzyme supplements.


Antibiotics
Many times people with CF are prescribed with antibiotics.


Anti-inflammatories
Fight inflammation and reduce swelling in the lungs.

Oxygen therapy
Severe lung disease may require breathing oxygen through a mask or prongs in the nose.


Visiting the CF Clinic
Children with CF should be coming to the clinic often in order to monitor their health. Children are first checked by a nurse (usually just height and weight, but sometimes the nurse will order blood work, lung x-rays and more). Afterwards, the child is taken in for physical therapy and then for an appointment with the dietician.
Social workers and psychologists are available for the family, to answer any questions they may have. The doctors are also around to answer questions and check the child. If regular treatment is not working, then the child may have to be hospitalized until his vitals are back to normal. An IV usually follows hospitalization.

Our staff works hard to make your child (and you) comfortable – there is a game room, a school, computers, arts and crafts, televisions, a healing garden, and more, available during your stay.

Sometimes, a doctor will recommend a home hospitalization – your child will be hooked up to an IV at home. When s/he is feeling better, they can return to school.