About Cystic Fibrosis

What Is Cystic Fibrosis?
Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000

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children and adults in the United States (70,000 worldwide). A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that:
  • clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections; and
  • obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food.
In the 1950s, few children with cystic fibrosis lived to attend elementary school. Today, advances in research and medical treatments have further enhanced and extended life for children and adults with CF. Many people with the disease can now expect to live into their 30s, 40s and beyond.                        

Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis
People with CF can have a variety of symptoms, including:
  • very salty-tasting skin;
  • persistent coughing, at times with phlegm;
  • frequent lung infections;
  • wheezing or shortness of breath;
  • poor growth/weight gain in spite of a good appetite; and
  • frequent greasy, bulky stools or difficulty in bowel movements.
About 1,000 new cases of cystic fibrosis are diagnosed each year.
More than 70% of patients are diagnosed by age two.
More than 45% of the CF patient population is age 18 or older.
The predicted median age of survival for a person with CF is in the late-30s.

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Since 1955, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has been the driving force behind the pursuit of a cure. Thanks to the dedication and financial backing of our supporters--patients, families and friends, clinicians, researchers, volunteers, individual donors, corporations and staff, we are making a difference.
Learn more about Testing for Cystic Fibrosis.
Explore all aspects of Living with CF at every stage of life.
See what Treatments are available and what’s in development.

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Infection Prevention and Control Policy


To reduce the risk of getting and spreading germs at CF Foundation-sponsored events, we ask that everyone follow basic best practices by regularly cleaning your hands with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand gel, covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your inner elbow and maintaining a safe 6-foot distance from anyone with a cold or infection.

Medical evidence shows that germs may spread among people with CF through direct and indirect contact, as well as through droplets that travel short distances when a person coughs or sneezes. These germs can lead to worsening symptoms and speed decline in lung function. To further help reduce the risk of cross-infection, the Foundation’s attendance policy recommends inviting only one person with CF to an indoor Foundation-sponsored event at a specific time.

Despite this policy, individuals with CF might choose to attend events without informing the CF Foundation or without the Foundation’s knowledge. If so, they do so at their own risk. The Foundation accepts no responsibility for any risk to health involved in attendance, or in any social contact between persons with CF. For more information, please visit www.cff.org.