Frequently Asked Questions

Here you will find a snapshot of information about cystic fibrosis (CF).
We welcome you to continue exploring our site for more information.
If you still have questions, please contact us.

CF is a genetic condition that causes a malfunction in the body responsible for producing saliva, sweat, tears, and mucus. 


This malfunction can cause impairment of the digestive functions of the pancreas and traps bacteria in the lungs resulting in recurrent infections, leading to irreversible damage.

In Australia, there is currently more than 3,600 people living with CF, and on average, a baby is born with CF every four days. 


That is one in every 2,500 births. 


It is also estimated that over a million Australians are unaware they carry the CF gene. 

No. CF is a genetic condition, meaning people are born with it. CF is not contagious. 

People with CF can have several symptoms, including salty skin, a steady cough with mucus, and shortness of breath. 


These are just a few symptoms, and not all people with CF display the same symptoms. 

Since 1986, all newborns in Australia have been subjected to a heel prick test. This test is used to screen for several conditions, one of which is CF.


However, the heel prick test is not always definitive, if a person displays obvious CF signs, a sweat test may be taken. This test measures the levels of salt in the perspiration of a person – one symptom of CF. 


Other tests may be required, depending on the part of the body that is affected, this can include: 

  • Chest X-rays, ultrasound, and CT scans

  • Blood tests

  • Lung function tests

  • Sputum cultures

  • Stool tests

There are many treatments for CF, including:

  • Physiotherapy to help remove mucus from the lungs and improve airflow
  • Vitamins, to help absorb fats. Fat-soluble vitamins are critical to normal growth and good nutrition
  • Nebulisers are used to deliver medication directly to the lungs, with fewer side-effects.
  • Medications help keep lungs clear, prevent or fight infections and, for some people, help correct the underlying cause of the disease.

Treatment will be different for each person and is best discussed with your CF Clinic.  

CF can have serious complications, including:


  • Lung infections and other serious lung problems that don’t go away or that come back

  • Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) that doesn’t go away or that comes back

  • Cirrhosis or liver disease

  • Vitamin deficiencies

  • Failure to thrive: This means that the child does not grow and develop like he or she should.

  • Infertility in males

  • Cystic fibrosis-related diabetes (CFRD)

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This causes stomach contents to rise up into the esophagus and can cause serious damage.

Organ transplants may also be needed for people with end-stage disease.

There is currently no cure for cystic fibrosis at this time, but ongoing research has seen advancements in treatment, which has significantly improved the lives of many people. 


In the 1960s cystic fibrosis was known as a childhood condition, but today in Australia, the average life expectancy is approximately 47yrs. 

Cystic Fibrosis Australia works tirelessly to support the advancements and improvements in patient and clinical care. 


We also support the administration of the Cystic Fibrosis Research Trust, where over $6million worth of research grants have been provided. 


Donating to Cystic Fibrosis Australia ensure we can continue to support the long-term outcomes of our CF Community. 


Donate HERE

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