Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Cystic fibrosis (CF)

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that mostly affects the lungs and digestive system. It results from a fault in a particular gene. As a result, the mucus produced by the lungs and intestines to be thick and sticky.

Cystic fibrosis is a recessive genetic disorder, meaning that both parents must carry the faulty cystic fibrosis gene for the disease to be passed to their child.

Cystic fibrosis is usually detected in newborn babies through a neonatal screening test, known as the heel prick test.

This free test involves pricking the heel of the baby to gain a tiny blood sample and detects up to 95% of babies with cystic fibrosis.

If a baby has a positive heel prick test, it should then have a sweat test at about 6 weeks old to see if it either has the disorder, or is a healthy carrier of the faulty gene.

Adults who have cystic fibrosis in their family can have genetic counselling and blood tests to see if they carry the gene for cystic fibrosis.

Most people with cystic fibrosis have:

  • chest problems such as cough, wheeze and recurrent chest infections
  • digestive problems and bulky, fatty stools
  • very salty sweat.

They may also have lung damage, malnutrition, poor growth and diabetes. Almost all men and most women with cystic fibrosis are infertile.

The lives of people with cystic fibrosis are usually shortened by the disorder, but they can lead happy and productive lives well into middle age.

While cystic fibrosis cannot be cured, physiotherapy and many other treatments are available to improve quality of life and reduce complications.

Last reviewed: November 2016

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 28 results

Cystic Fibrosis | myVMC

Information on the symptoms, treatment and diagnosis of cystic fibrosis symptom written by professional medical specialists.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

CF gene mutation testing - Lab Tests Online AU

To detect cystic fibrosis (CF) genetic mutations, to establish CF carrier status or to establish the diagnosis of CF in an individual

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Cystic fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is disability that mostly affects the lungs and digestive system.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Cystic fibrosis: fast facts - myDr.com.au

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition affecting one in every 2,500 Australian babies. In cystic fibrosis the mucus secretions are thicker and more sticky than usual.

Read more on myDr website

Cystic fibrosis - Lab Tests Online AU

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a relatively common inherited disease in which from infancy there are recurrent chest infections causing lung damage, intestinal malabsorption leading to severe malnutrition and growth failure, and there is an excess of salt in the sweat. Untreated, the condition is usually fatal in infancy or early childhood. With treatment, the average life expectancy of people who live to adulthood is about 37 years and this is increasing.

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Sweat test - Lab Tests Online AU

When a newborn or infant has symptoms that suggest CF, such as frequent respiratory infections and chronic cough, persistent diarrhoea, foul-smelling bulky greasy stools and malnutrition; and as a follow-up, confirmatory test to help diagnose CF

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Newborn screening tests - myDr.com.au

Newborn screening tests can detect rare but serious genetic or metabolic disorders in newborn babies.

Read more on myDr website

What is a congenital disorder?

Congenital disorder, also known as congenital disease or birth defects, are conditions present from birth. Find out more about congenital disorders.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Pros and cons - Lab Tests Online AU

Diagnostic testing is the situation where an individual is suspected of having a particular condition and a specific gene/s is/are tested to look for disease causing mutations. This can confirm the clinical diagnosis for the patient.

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Clinical genetic testing - Lab Tests Online AU

Clinical genetic testing refers to the laboratory analysis of DNA or RNA to aid in the diagnosis of disease. Genetic testing can provide definitive diagnosis as well as help predict the likelihood of developing a particular disease before symptoms even appear. It can tell if a person is carrying a specific gene that could be passed on to his or her children and sometimes it can give information as to whether some treatments will work before a patient starts therapy. These are definite advantages. However, there are also some issues in genetic testing that should be carefully thought out and discussed with a genetic counsellor or clinical geneticist before undergoing any testing. These aspects are reviewed in the section titled Pros and cons of genetic testing. In an era of patient responsibility, it is important that both health professionals and patients are educated in these matters to fully appreciate the value as well as the drawbacks of genetic testing.

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Check your symptoms Find a health service

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback