Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a complex condition, and people with CF may experience a difference in the severity of symptoms compared to others with CF.


CF is often described as an ‘invisible illness’, despite the battles going on inside the body, a person with CF might not always look ‘unwell’ on the outside.


A change to a gene (called the CFTR gene) that regulates how cells move salt and water around means that the body’s mucus becomes very sticky and thick. This mucus builds up in the lungs, airways, and digestive system, affecting breathing and digestion for people with CF.


Symptoms that people with CF may experience include:

        • a persistent cough that sometimes produces thick mucus
        • difficulty breathing
        • wheezing
        • frequent lung infections
        • salty sweat – salt loss in hot weather may produce muscle cramps or weakness
        • tiredness, lethargy, or reduced ability to exercise
        • poor growth or weight gain
        • frequent visits to the toilet
        • poor appetite
        • CF-related diabetes
        • infertility in males


The complexities of CF only multiply when we step back to contemplate the connections between CF and the rest of the systems in the body.

To understand the comorbidities associated with CF, Cystic Fibrosis Australia created the ‘CF Donut’. The CF Donut looks into the connections of CF throughout the entire body, such as Mental Health, Fertility, and Dexterity. 

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