While there is currently no cure for cystic fibrosis—a cure would likely involve gene therapy at an early age, which, though it’s being researched, has not yet been developed—there are treatment options mainly geared toward slowing the disease’s progression and minimizing symptoms.
Treatments for lung obstruction often associated with cystic fibrosis may include:
- Chest physical therapy
- Pulmonary rehabilitation, which may include exercise training, education, energy-conservation techniques and breathing strategies
- Exercise to looses mucus and stimulate coughing
- Bronchial airway drainage (the mucus that develops in patients’ lungs needs to be removed at least twice per day for 20 to 30 minutes)
- Medications to reduce mucus and assist in breathing
- Anti-inflammatory medications
Treatments to manage digestive problems associated with cystic fibrosis may include:
- An appropriate diet
- Pancreatic enzymes to assist in digestion
- Vitamin supplements
- Treatments for intestinal obstructions
Potential surgical procedures for those with cystic fibrosis may include nasal polyp removal and endoscopy and lavage (a procedure in which mucus is suctioned from obstructed airways). Patients with end-stage lung disease may in some cases be eligible for a heart-lung transplant or double lung transplant. Also, patients with cystic fibrosis should not smoke or be around those who do.