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Along with the lungs, the disease affects the body's ability to break down and absorb food; it can inhibit the vital functions of natural enzymes and obstruct the pancreas in its role of digestion. Back in the 1950s, many children with CF did not survive to finish elementary school.Patients do vary in the severity of their symptoms throughout their life, but typical problems include: - Frequent lung infections - Persistent coughing, frequently with phlegm - Wheezing or shortness of breath - Very salty-tasting skin - Poor growth/weight gain in spite of a good appetite - Frequent greasy, bulky stools or difficulty in bowel movements According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the disease approximately affects 70,000 people worldwide, and an estimated 1,000 new cases are diagnosed annually. Now, due to advances in medicine and technology, these patients may have full lives into their 30s, 40s, and older.Another important issue to remember is the immediacy of inoculation with these organisms; even if a CF patient received the all-clear at the doctor's office, this patient could pick up a strain of bacteria the very next day. In order to protect CF patients from cross-infection, organizations instituted guidelines for social settings, hospitalized patients, and outpatient situations.The social setting rules include: - Close personal contact is discouraged among patients (such as sharing rooms, sharing medical equipment, sharing cutlery, and kissing/intimate contact). Do not share rooms with other people with CF if staying overnight.One source of comfort for patients has always been each other – those that share their disease, their symptoms, and the rules they must follow.They can swap stories, treatments, and advice on how to cope with living with their disease.
For example, to treat their lung problems, patients usually maintain a regimen of medications, chest physical therapy (CPT), and exercise.
For outpatient situations: - CF patients attending an appointment should be brought to an exam room immediately following check-in.