What is Cystic Fibrosis?
At lunch, Lindsay often gets bored with having the same old conversation with her friends:
"You're so lucky!"
"Yeah, I'd give anything to be able to eat as much as you do and be so skinny!"
"Cheeseburgers or mac and cheese every day — that would be great."
Lindsay is one of about 30,000 people living with cystic fibrosis (CF) in the United States, and she has to eat high-fat, high-calorie foods just to stay healthy. A lot of the time she just doesn't feel well enough to eat the foods most teens crave. And sometimes, when her schedule's really hectic, she'd love to just skip a meal like her friends do.
CF is a genetic disease that affects the body's epithelial cells, which are found in many places, including the sweat glands, the lungs, and the pancreas. An error in these cells causes problems with the balance of salt and water in the body. The body responds by making thick mucus, which blocks the lungs and sometimes other ducts and passageways, causing infections and breathing problems.
This mucus can also keep the intestines from absorbing important nutrients like fat and vitamins from food, which means that teens with CF may be short and underweight for their age, and they may get sick a lot because their bodies can't fight infections well.
People with CF need extra calories and nutrients to help them fight infection and keep their lungs strong, particularly if they get sick with colds or the flu.
With the right balance of nutrition, extra fat and calories, and prescribed supplements, though, teens with CF can keep themselves healthy.
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