Donate to Cystic Fibrosis Research, Patient Care and Education

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that affects the absorption of water and salt across cells, and creates complications in the respiratory, digestive and reproductive systems of the body. Due to excessive absorption of sodium and water in the cells, many bodily secretions (like mucus) become much thicker and stickier than normal. This reality, in turn, produces problems in the respiratory system when the mucus causes breathing to be labored and increases the risk and incidence of lung infections. These thick secretions also cause problems in the gastrointestinal tract, especially in the pancreas. Within the reproductive system, this thickened mucus may also block the sperm canal, causing infertility in most men with cystic fibrosis, and creating potential difficulties with cervical mucus, making it more difficult (but not impossible) for women to conceive. Due to malabsorption of water and salt, people diagnosed with cystic fibrosis may experience dehydration due to increased sweat, heat stroke and an increased heart rate. In essence, almost every part of the body is affected, either directly or indirectly.

There is not yet a cure for cystic fibrosis  . . . But, by making a donation to Northwestern Memorial Foundation, you will play a vital role in growing patient education and care programs at Northwestern Medicine. Continued funding is necessary to support essential research aimed at developing better treatments and a possible cure. Your generosity will support our multidisciplinary team’s efforts to create individualized treatment plans and provide crucial services, including the following:

  • Pulmonary rehabilitation: May include exercise, education, nutritional counseling and psychosocial counseling
  • Chest physical therapy: Involves the use of pounding or tapping motions on the chest to help loosen mucus in the lungs
  • Exercise: With precautions to avoid dehydration, exercise can help loosen mucus and make breathing easier
  • Medications, including:
    • Antibiotics used to fight infection
    • Anti-inflammatory drugs (inhaled or oral) to reduce airway swelling
    • Bronchodilators to relax the muscles surrounding the airways
    • Bone density drugs to build bone mass
  • Supplemental oxygen: This therapy may be necessary when blood oxygen levels are low due to mucus buildup
  • Lung transplant: Some cystic fibrosis patients may qualify for a lung transplant
  • Nutritional supplements: For patients who are not absorbing enough nutrition from their food
  • High-calorie, high-salt diet: This diet helps combat weight loss and dehydration due to excessive sweating
  • Feeding tube: Necessary to help some patients absorb more nutrients

Cystic Fibrosis Research, Patient Care and Education Donation

The average life expectancy of a patient with cystic fibrosis is in the mid to late 30s. With more research into effective medications and therapies, we can continue to extend patients’ lives and improve their day-to-day health. By contributing to Northwestern Memorial Foundation, you are giving the gift of support, hope and improved quality of life to countless people.

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