Medical IDs for Cystic Fibrosis

The confidence to live with cystic fibrosis

The average person might not spend much time thinking about the mucus their body produces. When mucus acts as it should, it helps to keep the nasal passages and the digestive system lubricated. The mucus remains thin and doesn’t interfere with daily life.  

People who develop cystic fibrosis have a gene mutation that affects the regulation of the body’s mucus. The mutation keeps the protein from doing its job.  

What is cystic fibrosis? 

According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF), the disease is a genetic disease caused by a mutation in the CFTR gene. The mutation means that the body either doesn’t produce CFTR protein correctly, or doesn’t produce it at all.  

When the CFTR protein doesn’t work as it’s supposed or isn’t around, the body can’t move chloride to cell surfaces. Usually, the body uses chloride (which is a primary ingredient in salt) to keep the mucus that’s found in organs like the lungs thin. 

Without the chloride, the mucus ends up being sticky and thick. When it’s thick, mucus doesn’t flow the way it’s supposed to. As a result, it can end up clogging a person’s airways, making it difficult to breathe. The thick mucus also increases a person’s risk of infections.  

Cystic fibrosis is a progressive disease, meaning it becomes worse over time. In the past, the average lifespan of a person with cystic fibrosis was very short, with many people dying in their teens or early 20s. Today, life expectancy is considerably longer. A person born between 2015 and 2019 and diagnosed with cystic fibrosis has a predicted life expectancy of 46 years. The longer life expectancy is due to an improvement in treatments and screening for the disease. 

How is a MedicAlert ID helpful for people with cystic fibrosis?  

Cystic fibrosis medical ID, such as a cystic fibrosis necklace or bracelet can provide emergency medical personnel with valuable information about a person in the event of a medical emergency.

Wearing cystic fibrosis bracelets or another type of cystic fibrosis ID means that emergency responders become aware of your condition and can adjust any treatments they give you accordingly. Wearing a medical ID that states that you have cystic fibrosis can also give emergency responders or other medical providers insight into your state of health and can help them diagnose the situation readily.  

When choosing a medical ID for cystic fibrosis, consider including the following information on it: 

  • Cystic fibrosis 
  • Any medications you take 
  • Any other medical conditions 
  • Known allergies 

The average person with cystic fibrosis now lives a healthier and longer life than in the past. Wearing or carrying a medical ID can further help you live a long life with cystic fibrosis. 

The importance of cystic fibrosis medical ID bracelet

Wearing a medical ID at all times allows your medical conditions to be known immediately in an emergency situation. With the presence of a MedicAlert medical ID, first responder can contact MedicAlert to obtain your complete health history.

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What causes cystic fibrosis? 

As a genetic disease, cystic fibrosis is caused by a mutation in a particular gene, specifically the CFTR gene. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), there are more than 2,000 mutations that can affect the CFTR gene and its ability to produce CFTR protein.  

A common mutation causes part of the gene to be missing, so the protein it produces doesn’t function properly.  

Every parent passes a CFTR gene on to their children. The condition of the inherited genes determines whether or not a child will develop cystic fibrosis. To get the disease, a child needs to inherit a gene with a CFTR mutation from each parent. 

Since it is a genetic condition, cystic fibrosis runs in families. A child of a parent with cystic fibrosis has a higher risk of developing the disease. A child who has a first cousin or sibling with cystic fibrosis is also more likely to have the disease, too. 

It’s also possible that a child with a family history of cystic fibrosis will become a carrier of the genetic mutation but won’t develop the disease themselves. According to the NHLBI, 10 million people in the U.S. carry a mutated CFTR gene but many people aren’t aware of the mutation. 

How is cystic fibrosis diagnosed? 

It’s become common practice to screen newborns for cystic fibrosis shortly after birth and before they have a chance to develop symptoms. Thanks to this early screening, babies with the condition are often diagnosed by the age of two

Early diagnosis means a child can begin to receive treatment for the disease sooner, helping to extend their life expectancy and manage their symptoms. 

Methods of diagnosing cystic fibrosis include blood tests, sweat tests and genetic testing. Parents can decide to have genetic testing performed before becoming pregnant to analyze their risk. Prenatal genetic testing is also an option.  

What are the symptoms of cystic fibrosis? 

When a person has cystic fibrosis, they often have higher than average levels of salt in their sweat. That’s why a sweat test is a common diagnostic tool for the condition. If someone didn’t undergo screening for cystic fibrosis as an infant, a common early sign of the condition is sweat that has a strong salty taste

Other symptoms of the condition can vary from person to person and even within the same person. The symptoms usually appear in the part of the body that is affected by the thickened mucus. For example, someone with thick mucus in the lungs is likely to have respiratory symptoms such as wheezing, coughing up thick mucus and recurring sinus infections. 

When the condition affects the digestive system, symptoms often include constipation, bad-smelling stools and weight loss. 

How is cystic fibrosis treated? 

Cystic fibrosis can’t be cured but it can be managed. Treatments can help to manage symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. The goal of treatment is usually to improve a person’s quality of life and to extend their life.  

Treatment options include medications that help to thin mucus, reduce the risk of infection or reduce airway inflammation. Some medications work by treating the mutation that affects the CFTR protein, according to the American Lung Association

People with cystic fibrosis usually work closely with their doctor to monitor their symptoms and manage the condition.  

The average person with cystic fibrosis now lives a healthier and longer life than in the past. Wearing or carrying a medical ID can further help you live a long life with cystic fibrosis. 

What should I engrave on a cystic fibrosis medical ID?

MedicAlert offers free custom engraving on all our medical ID products. The engraving on your cystic fibrosis should include any critical medical information that can protect and save your life if you are in an accident or have a medical emergency, including:

  • Medical conditions
  • Medications
  • Allergies
  • Implanted devices
  • Any medical information that needs to be communicated to first responders.

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation mission is to cure cystic fibrosis. They provide support, education and advocacy for all people with CF.

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