Cystic Fibrosis or Fibrocystic Disease is the most common hereditary disease of the Caucasian race, leading to death at a young age. Cystic Fibrosis isn’t a contagious disease, however, it is hereditary. To have the disease, one must carry two pathological genes, inherited from both his/ her parents, who are carriers of the disease without knowing it. Today in Greece, carriers of the pathological gene that causes Cystic Fibrosis are estimated to exceed 500.000. The possibility of giving birth to a child with Cystic Fibrosis in the general population is 1:500, while if both parents are carriers, the possibility reaches 1:4.
The main characteristic of the disease is the production of particularly dense mucus, which clots various organs and pores of the body – mainly the lungs and pancreas -, leading to severe pancreatic insufficiency at a very young age, as well as to severe respiratory infections that gradually destroy the lungs and induce respiratory insufficiency to the patient.
The disease aggravates many other organs of the body, such as:
• The liver, by causing cirrhosis,
• The sinuses, with the incidence of polyps and sinusitis at a very young age,
• The bones and joints, with the development of rheumatoid arthritis, osteopenia and osteoporosis,
• The genital system of men, the vast majority of whom face fertility problems,
• The bowel, with the induction of ileus, as well as the sweat glands.
Due to pancreatic insufficiency, it is difficult for patients to gain weight, while they often suffer from diabetes, too. Patients are extremely sensitive to respiratory infections; to treat them, they undergo physiotherapy and various treatments, with the aim to deal with chronic infections of the respiratory system and to restrain lung damage, which leads to the patients’ death.
Cystic Fibrosis is a hereditary disease that is due to a mutation of a gene on chromosome 7. To have the disease, one must carry two pathological genes, inherited from both his/ her parents, who are carriers of the disease without knowing it! If 2 carriers of the disease get married, the chance of giving birth to a child with Cystic Fibrosis is 1 out of 4. Every year, 50 children with Cystic Fibrosis are born in Greece! A 25% chance of giving birth to a child with Cystic Fibrosis exists in all births.
Characteristic symptoms of the disease are:
• Persistent and unjustified cough.
• Frequent respiratory infections.
• Inability to gain weight.
• Recurrent diarrhea.
• Particularly salty sweat.