Treatment for Cystic Fibrosis

March 21, 2017

Treatment for Cystic Fibrosis

Your child's health care provider will figure out the best treatment for your child based on:

  • How old your child is

  • His or her overall health and medical history

  • How sick your child is

  • Your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

  • Your opinion or preference

There is no cure for CF. However, research in gene therapy is being done. The gene that causes CF has been found. This may lead to a better understanding of the disease. Gene therapy research may eventually cure, prevent, or slow progression of the disease. Goals of treatment are to ease severity of symptoms and slow the progress of the disease. Treatment may include:

  • CFTR modulator therapies. CFTR (cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator) is the protein that is not formed properly in people with CF. There are new CFTR modulator therapies that are designed to correct the function of the defective protein made by the CF gene. These proteins are only appropriate for certain people with CF. They only help people with specific genetic abnormalities. 

  • Managing problems that cause lung obstruction, such as:

    • Chest physical therapy. This helps loosen and clear lung secretions. Treatment may include postural drainage, and devices that vibrate the chest wall and loosen secretions. Chest physical therapy can be done manually or mechanically, with a vest.

    • Exercise. This helps loosen mucus, stimulate coughing, and improve overall physical condition.

    • Medicines, such as bronchodilators and anti-inflammatories. These are used to decrease inflammation and swelling, thin the mucus, open airways, and help breathing.

    • Antibiotics. These are used to treat infections.

  • Managing digestive problems, which may involve:

    • Changing your child's diet

    • Pancreatic enzymes to aid digestion

    • Vitamin supplements

    • Treatments for intestinal blockages

  • Psychosocial support. Provides help in dealing with coping, independence, sterility, and sexuality, money issues, and relationships.

As lung disease gets near the end stage, lung transplantation may be an option. The type of transplant done is usually a double lung transplant. That’s because leaving the other, sicker lung in place puts it at risk for infection and damage. Not everyone is a candidate for a lung transplant. Ask your child's healthcare provider for more information.

With medical and psychosocial support, many children and teens with CF can cope well and lead a productive life.


March 21, 2017

Reviewed By:  

Blaivas, Allen J., DO,Holloway, Beth Greenblatt, RN, M.Ed.