Cystic fibrosis explained - the disorder the BACF football game is tackling

A local health official explains cystic fibrosis.
Updated: Jun. 2, 2023 at 12:00 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - To get what Friday’s Battle Against Cystic Fibrosis football game is about, first you have to understand what cystic fibrosis is.

WTAP talked to a local respiratory therapist who works with cystic fibrosis patients to get a deeper look at the disorder.

According to the CDC, cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder in which someone’s mucus is too thick and sticky. This impacts the lungs and other organs as well.

WVU Medicine Camden Clark Respiratory Therapist Susan Aufdenkampe gave WTAP a glimpse of what living with symptoms feels like, saying, “Probably the easiest thing that most people will relate to is the shortness of breath. I mean, if you think about trying to breathe through a straw, if I made you do that, you wouldn’t be able to sustain that and that’s what these people are living with.”

Aufdenkampe said most cystic fibrosis patients will end up getting a lung transplant.

“It impacts their daily life - their eating, because it affects the digestive system, it affects how they get the nutrients from the food they eat, it affects their lungs,” she said.

Aufdenkampe said that that daily life impact is huge.

“Just because they have to be so strict with their regiment, they have to be careful with getting close to someone who might have a respiratory infection or any other kind of infection because they’re going to be more susceptible to pick that up and that will cause their underlying disease to get worse,” she explained.

The cost is financial as well.

“The cost of medications that the families have to endure to treat this is astronomical,” Aufdenkampe explained.

Cystic fibrosis is a disorder people are born with that’s typically diagnosed in childhood.

Aufdenkampe said, with advancements in treatments through the years, going to the hospital has become a less frequent trip for patients.

“They’re living into adulthood now, which we didn’t see when I started in the 80′s so that just shows how much we’ve advanced,” she said.

These are advancements that medical professionals hope to build on.