For individuals living with cystic fibrosis (CF), airflow in the lungs can be hindered by the production of thick, sticky mucus. This not only clogs airways but can also result in bronchitis, leading to wheezing, shortness of breath and coughing.

Lungs that are clogged with mucus will also exhibit a decreased blood flow, leading to increased blood pressure and possibly pulmonary hypertension. Pneumothorax and other severe complications can also result from long term strain on the lungs in people with CF.

Systems of the body affected by CF on a cellular level will also face comorbidities related to inflammation because the tissue will be more prone to aggravation in the first place. 

At the same time, blockages in the lungs can pose a risk for infection because stagnant material is unable to be cleared out. Individuals managing CF are therefore not only more vulnerable to infections they contract but also more likely to contract them initially.

Cystic Fibrosis Australia (CFA) fights hard to make sure that the effects of CF on the lungs are well understood and we advocate for universal access to the life saving medications that help relieve this strain on one of the body’s most crucial organ systems.

However, we can also benefit by placing CF respiratory complications in a wider context to understand which conditions can exacerbate CF symptoms and which disease groups exhibit meaningful similarities with CF. This not only helps the CF community to stay abreast of important discoveries and emerging technologies, it also helps us to expand our advocacy potential by forging relationships with those who experience similar obstacles in life.

One of the more troubling complications of CF in the lungs is that respiratory complications can be exacerbated by the constant inhalation of bile that cannot be cleared from the lungs because of the initial mucosal build-up, resulting in a kind of cyclical damage.

With that in mind we have compiled a short list of conditions which share co-morbidities with CF and important overlapping risks.

  • Bronchiectasis                                                                              
  • Asthma
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)                        
  • Chronic Bronchitis
  • Emphysema                                                                                 
  • Lung Cancer
  • Cystic Fibrosis/Bronchiectasis                                                     
  • Pneumonia
  • Pleural Effusion.

Additional Resources


CF and Lung function: 




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