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Health Tip: Understanding Cystic Fibrosis

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(HealthDay News) -- Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited disease that causes a thick mucus to fill the lungs, triggering lung infections. The mucus also can prevent the body from properly absorbing food, and may ultimately lead to liver damage.

Symptoms of CF include chronic cough, salty skin, difficulty breathing, and poor weight gain despite significant appetite, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation says.

About 30,000 Americans have CF and millions more carry the defective gene that causes it but don't go on to develop the illness, the foundation says.

A test that measures the amount of salt in a person's sweat is used to diagnose CF. Treatment for the disease usually includes medications -- including antibiotics -- to fight lung infections, and frequent clearing of the mucus that fills the lungs.

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