Conditions That Resemble Cystic Fibrosis

Have you ever wondered the cause of your symptoms and went to the internet looking for answers? Your search likely led you to different conditions that resemble your cystic fibrosis. They are called mimickers. A mimicker has many of the same symptoms. But, they differ when it comes to their cause and how they’re managed.

Misdiagnoses for cystic fibrosis are rare. But they can happen. Your healthcare provider rules out different conditions that resemble cystic fibrosis to end with the right diagnoses through differential diagnosis. These are a few of the common conditions they must rule out to diagnose you with cystic fibrosis.



Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you; influenza (flu) is one of the conditions that resemble cystic fibrosis. What makes this condition tricky is that it can also occur with cystic fibrosis as a comorbid condition. This is because cystic fibrosis makes you susceptible to frequent infections.

How Are You Infected?

The flu is caused by a viral infection. The flu virus spreads through infected respiratory droplets. You inhale these airborne droplets from a person’s cough or sneeze or when you touch an infected surface. The flu causes signs and symptoms that resemble respiratory symptoms like a cough and, in more severe cases, shortness of breath and breathing problems.

Although an infection can happen at any time, healthcare providers notice a trend or pattern. Does the phrase “cold and flu season” sing any bells?
It should! Flu infections are seasonal. These infections start in the fall and taper off in spring.

Manage Your Infection

Are you over the age of 65? Do you have an underlying health condition? If so, you may have medical complications if you contract the flu. The flu shot protects you against infection. Still, an infection could happen. Should you become infected, rest, hydration, and over-the-counter medicines help alleviate your symptoms.


Pneumonia is another condition that mimics your cystic fibrosis. We tend to think of pneumonia as a single condition, but it’s an umbrella term for an infection in your lungs.

Infections have different causes. Viruses cause some infections while harmful bacteria cause others. Only viral infections cause the flu. But the same is not true for pneumonia. And that’s because both can cause pneumonia.

Want to learn more about the different types of pneumonia and their causes? Read more here.

Signs and Symptoms

Pneumonia involves your lungs and your respiratory system. So it’s not surprising that its symptoms resemble those of different respiratory conditions, such as asthma and cystic fibrosis.

  • A cough with phlegm or mucus
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Fever
Managing Pneumonia

Management depends on the type and its severity. Severe cases require hospitalization. However, less severe cases respond to antibiotics, which rid you of the infection.

Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis

Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) is another condition that mimics your cystic fibrosis. It can also appear with your cystic fibrosis as a comorbid condition.

ABPA was discussed as a comorbid condition. Want to learn more? Read more about the condition and its presentation here.


Finally, pancreatitis happens when there’s inflammation in your pancreas. Gallstones and drinking are two causes.

Pancreatitis Presentation

Remember that cystic fibrosis affects more than your respiratory system. It also affects your gastrointestinal system. In short, gastrointestinal involvement is why pancreatitis resembles cystic fibrosis.

Most people with pancreatitis have mild symptoms that include abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. And the good news is that managing pancreatitis looks similar to managing the GI issues caused by cystic fibrosis. Healthcare providers recommend fluids, addressing nutritional needs, and antibiotics for infections.