General: Symptoms of cystic fibrosis (CF) vary among patients. Some patients may experience severe symptoms that affect the lungs as well as the digestive and reproductive systems. Others may experience milder symptoms that affect less parts of the body. In some cases, patients may experience more or less severe symptoms as they age.
Newborns: In newborns, the first sign of CF may be blockage of the intestines. Healthy babies normally pass greenish-black stools, called meconium, during their first couple days of life. However, if the infant has CF, the meconium may be too thick to move through the intestines. Other signs and symptoms may include oily stools, failure to grow, and frequent lung infections.
Children and adults: Children and adults typically have increased amounts of salt in their sweat. Parents may taste the salt when they kiss their children's skin. Other symptoms may include oily stools, thick sputum, coughing, difficulty breathing, and wheezing. Patients often suffer from blocked bowels, which may lead to protrusion of part of the rectum through the anus.
Because CF patients experience difficulty breathing, almost all patients eventually experience enlargement or rounding of the fingertips or toes (clubbing). This happens when there is not enough oxygen in the blood.
Less common symptoms: Less common symptoms may include abnormal growths (polyps) in the nasal passageway and cirrhosis of the liver that is caused by inflammation or obstruction of the bile ducts. Children who are older than four years old may experience displacement of one part of the intestine into another.
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