Cystic Fibrosis treatments part 1
Various treatments are made available by modern medicine for cystic fibrosis. These mainly deal with infections, as well as the amount and viscosity of mucus in the lungs, and maintaining proper diet.
In this article you will find treatments for the lungs most commonly associated with cystic fibrosis that have been proven effective over time amongst majority of patients.
This is a treatment that most cystic fibrosis sufferers are most acquainted with. As they battle minor lung infections on a daily basis, some of these can even be severe enough to merit hospitalization. This is why antibiotics are crucial in the process to keep these infections at bay. There are multiple factors that can affect one's proper intake of antibiotics, which include specific bacteria strains, severity of illness and previous antibiotic use.
Different types of antibiotics associated with this condition include:
- the typical oral antibiotics for mild infections,
- Tobramycin or Tobi used in nebulizers to fight Pseudomonas,
- IV antibiotics for more severe infections,
- other antibiotics like azithromycin (known as Zithromax) that serve anti-inflammatory functions.
Lymphocytes, more commonly known as white blood cells, tend to release DNA in cells when they attack bacteria in the respiratory system. Due to this, the bulky mucus becomes even thicker and clogs the airways.
Treatment is available in the form of dornase alfa, also known as Pulmozyme, which is an enzyme that breaks DNA apart. This results in thin and liquid mucus, which can then be coughed up to clear up the airways.
Other solutions include N-acetylcysteine and saline, which make the mucus more liquid. In particular, hypertonic saline is a solution of concentrated sterilized saltwater which is taken by nebulizer twice daily to clear up the mucus.
Pulmonary obstruction makes it more difficult to breath for patients. Bronchodilators are then used to open bronchi and bronchioles for easier airflow.
Chest physical therapy
Cystic fibrosis patients also require treatment to manually remove the mucus, which can simply be done by clapping on the front and back of the chest with cupped hands multiple times to dislodge the secretions.
This method is called chest physical therapy (CPT), also known as chest clapping, and postural drainage. By pounding on the chest and back repeatedly as necessary, mucus can then be loosened up enough for the patient to dislodge. It is common and effective for cystic fibrosis patients and must be done twice daily for 20 to 30 minutes each time. This procedure requires the patient to be either sitting or lying face down during the procedure so that gravity can assist the drainage.
Due to its penchant for discomfort, other tools have been created to make CPT easier:
- electric chest clappers,
- inflatable therapy vests,
- hand-held “flutter” devices,
- positive expiratory pressure (PEP) masks, and so on.
Most of these devices involve vibrations and other use of indirect physical manipulation to loosen up the phlegm in the lungs.
Alternatively, patients also use breathing techniques to dislodge mucus, which include:
- forced expiration technique (FET),
- active cycle breathing (ACB).
FET involves forcibly huffing out followed by relaxed breaths, while ACB involves deep breathing exercises. Both techniques are used to loosen up the mucus for easy dislodging.
Disclaimer: This website provides general information about cystic fibrosis and in no means should be taken as a medical or health advice. Please consult your doctor before acting on any of its information.