What Does Cystic Fibrosis Do To Your Body?

Cystic fibrosis is a systemic condition that involves a number of your organs and body systems. Everyone with cystic fibrosis has a unique profile. To illustrate, some people have lots of systems involved, while others have less involvement and more impairment. These are the organ systems commonly involved. 

Lungs And Airways

Cystic fibrosis always affects your lungs and upper airways. Your airways contain small structures called cilia. The cilia defend your airways against mucus and bacteria. However, cystic fibrosis impairs the cilia and lowers this line of defense.

Additionally, the specific gene mutation causes your airways to produce lots of mucus. So not only are your airways infiltrated by harmful bacteria, but they’re also covered in sticky mucus!


Your pancreas is one of the organs in your abdomen. Its job is critical ⎯ it helps with digestion and regulating your blood sugar. Your pancreas breaks down the foods you eat, turning the food into fuel for your body’s cells. Your body gets sugar from the foods you eat.

Cystic fibrosis impairs your digestive enzymes. So your body can’t break down your food. Serious health problems like malabsorption, insulin resistance, and diabetes can occur. The good news is that you can treat pancreatic disease with a daily replacement enzyme. 

Gastrointestinal And Nutritional Problems

Gastrointestinal and nutritional problems are common in children with cystic fibrosis. And they appear to be associated with their pancreatic issues. For instance, pancreatic disease or insufficiency affects the digestive enzymes that break down foods. Thus, children have trouble breaking down food and getting the nutrients they need from the foods they eat. As a result, they can experience malnutrition, malabsorption, maldigestion, deficiencies, or failure to thrive.

Children with cystic fibrosis have complex nutritional needs. But these needs are met and supported with feeding routines, ongoing assessments, and diet changes. Consult with your dietician about your specific nutritional needs.


The final effect cystic fibrosis has on your body is with your liver. Cystic fibrosis makes your body produce lots of mucus. We assume that the mucus is only in your airways, but that’s not true. Mucus builds up throughout the body, blocking different organs. One of those organs is your liver.

Your liver has many functions. Three important functions include metabolizing medication, balancing nutrients, and producing bile. Bile removes waste away from your liver.

Cystic fibrosis causes mucus that blocks the bile ducts. The blockage causes chronic inflammation and scarring. In severe cases, your liver can’t do its job properly.