Cystic fibrosis is a serious genetic condition that affects the lungs and digestive system. According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the defective gene responsible for the disease “causes a thick, sticky buildup of mucus in the lungs, pancreas, and other organs.” Over time, as cystic fibrosis progresses, it will limit a person’s ability to breathe.
The disease is most commonly diagnosed in infants and young children, but in some cases, symptoms do not appear until adulthood. While all newborns in the United States and Canada are now screened for cystic fibrosis at birth—making diagnosis possible within the first few weeks of life—for those who were born before such testing was implemented it’s important to be aware of the common signs and symptoms, including these 18.
Cystic fibrosis is caused by a single defective gene—the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR). According to WebMD, this gene “controls the flow of salt and fluids in and out of your cells.”
As a result, people with cystic fibrosis will have increased salt in their sweat, causing very salty-tasting skin. Parents of children with the disease will often taste the salt when kissing them.