Cystic Fibrosis affects tens of thousands of people worldwide. It is an illness in which mucus builds up in the lungs and pancreas, among other organs, causing airways to become constricted and blocked. This leads to infections, damage to the lungs and eventually to the failure of the respiratory system. Now, a new study has shed light on the cause of the disease’s progression, which could be great news for the people who suffer from this debilitating and often deadly illness.
Cystic Fibrosis is caused by a bacteria called Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which causes mucus in the lungs to thicken and build, resulting in patients not being able to properly expel the bacteria from their body. This results in chronic inflammation and infection of the pulmonary system and progressive lung damage.
People who suffer from cystic fibrosis can suffer from a variety of symptoms including persistent coughing, respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia, shortness of breath, wheezing, weight gain, stunted growth, salty-tasting skin, greasy and bulky stools, difficulty with bowel movements and even infertility.
As with many chronic bacterial infections, what makes Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria so dangerous is that they mutate, adapt and evolve to match the body of the CF patient. This makes them uniquely able to grow in areas with less oxygen as well as being resistant to antibacterial therapies. Up till now it has not been understood exactly how the bacteria’s mutation contributes to the progression of the disease, but the new study has now placed a spotlight on just how and why the disease worsens.
A research team out of the U.S. and Canada has now discovered that the bacteria responsible for CF has the effect of worsening inflammatory responses in the immune system. This worsening is directly related to the loss of a certain protease in the system which normally reduces inflammatory cytokines. As the bacteria mutates, the condition gets worse and leads to the progression of the disease.
In the end, this study sheds light on and hammers home the importance of scientists working to understand how mutating bacteria can exacerbate inflammatory responses in patients suffering from chronic bacterial infections. Better understanding of how bacteria mutate and the specific effects of the mutations will lead to better, more effective and targeted therapies to help treat these diseases.
Cystic Fibrosis in Atlanta
As work continues on the progression and treatment of the disease, those who have cystic fibrosis in Atlanta should seek treatment and diagnosis by a qualified Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor. An ENT doctor can diagnose the disease through testing of sweat and pulmonary functions, and can offer enhanced care as a part of your healthcare team. Treatment can involve education, nutritional support, social services and respiratory care and medication.
If you suffer from this illness, don’t wait to get treatment. The earlier you address the problem, the better off you will be. Give Atlanta ENT a call today to get your diagnosis and treatment underway.