Often, cystic fibrosis is diagnosed through a screening in infancy before any symptoms are apparent. When symptoms do appear, they can be many and varied:
- Chronic cough that often includes coughing thick mucus
- Greasy stools from undigested fat
- Inability to gain weight
- Increased salt content in sweat
- Intestinal pain, cramping, gas or constipation
- Persistent sinus issues
- Recurrent respiratory tract infections
- Wheezing or other breathing problems
Over time symptoms can improve, worsen or change. For adults with cystic fibrosis whose condition went undiagnosed in childhood, symptoms may be milder.
The primary risk factor of developing cystic fibrosis is having 2 parents who each carry the gene that causes the disease. Only those who inherit the gene from both parents will develop cystic fibrosis. People who inherit the gene from only one parent become carriers of the disease but will not show symptoms themselves.