Cystic fibrosis is a genetic illness that can affect a person’s digestion and breathing. It is harder to absorb nutrients from food, and people with CF get lung and nasal infections more easily.
Managing symptoms lets people with Cystic fibrosis lead healthier, happier lives and helps avoid bigger complications down the line. Continue reading to learn about chronic sinus infections and nasal therapies.
Chronic Sinus Infections & Cystic Fibrosis
When talking about infection and cystic fibrosis, the lungs are usually the topic of discussion. However, most people with CF also suffer from sinusitis, or sinus infections. The sinuses are 4 sets of open, air-filled space inside the head.
The thick mucus associated with CF makes it easy for virus and bacteria to thrive. The sinuses of a person with CF become filled with this mucus, making them a target for infection. The symptoms are similar to those of hay fever but more severe: stuffy nose, congestion, post-nasal drip, headaches, bad breath, cough, and throat irritation.
About half of people with CF develop nasal polyps. Nasal polyps are benign bumps inside the nose. Depending on the size of a polyp and its location, it can cause a variety of problems. A polyp can make it difficult to breathe, block drainage from the nose or sinuses, and sometimes even protrude from the nostrils.
These sinus infections can be long-lasting and frustrating, but there are nasal sinus therapies available to lessen the symptoms and prevent further problems.
Nasal Sinus Treatments for Cystic Fibrosis
CF sinus therapies are similar to sinusitis treatment for anyone else. The key is doing treatment regularly and as prescribed by your doctor.The antibiotics used for your lung infections will also help the infections in your sinuses, but you may be given medication specifically for your sinus problems. These could include pills or a medicated nasal spray. As always, take your antibiotics as prescribed—failing to follow through with antibiotics can make bacteria more resistant to future treatment. Your doctor might also prescribe nasal steroids, antihistamines, or decongestants. Consult your doctor before taking over-the-counter antihistamines or decongestants to avoid problems.
Nasal irrigation or nasal flushing can also help clear out congestion and infection. This involves using a squeeze bulb or syringe to push a saline solution into the nasal cavity. Commercial solutions are available that include moisturizing agents or antibiotics, but you can also mix a simple saline solution yourself with distilled water and non-iodized salt.
Nasal polyps can be treated with steroids, and sometimes steroids can prevent polyps from returning. It’s important to note that polyps can reform if the underlying cause isn’t managed or eliminated. In some cases, surgery is necessary. These surgeries are usually done endoscopically, with a camera and light on a narrow tube.
People who undergo lung transplants to treat their CF will still struggle with sinus infections. By keeping the sinuses clear, they can delay or prevent infection from reaching their new lungs. This is essential to keep the new lungs healthy.
Sinus infections are an uncomfortable reality for many people with CF. But by being consistent with treatment, symptoms can be managed. Don’t give up and keep at it!
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