For a person to develop cystic fibrosis, both their parents must carry the gene mutation. As such, the condition is not contagious.
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic condition that causes a buildup of thick, sticky mucus in the lungs and digestive system. This results in blockages, infections, or damage to the organs and tissues involved in breathing and digestion.
This article explores the causes of CF and explains why the condition is not contagious.
It also discusses CF symptoms and treatments as well as the outlook for people living with the condition. Finally, the article answers some frequently asked questions about CF.
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic condition. It occurs due to a mutation in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene. This gene provides instructions for the CFTR protein, which is involved in regulating the consistency of mucus.
The CFTR protein exists in every mucus-producing organ of the body,
The CFTR protein controls the movement of sodium and water across cell membranes. In people without CF, the CFTR protein helps produce thin, free-flowing mucus. In people with CF, the faulty CFTR protein produces thick, sticky mucus.
The thick, sticky mucus in the respiratory and digestive systems can cause complications, such as blockages, infections, and organ damage.
For a person to develop CF, they must inherit a faulty CFTR gene from each parent. If both parents have the faulty gene, there is a 1 in 4 chance their offspring will have CF.
Because CF is a genetic condition, it is not contagious. This means it is not possible for a person to contract CF from someone who has the condition.
People with CF often experience a chronic cough. This might lead other people to believe CF may be contagious. However, this cough is a symptom of CF. The condition cannot be transmitted to others.
Cross-infection occurs when one person with CF transmits an infection to another person with CF. This is much more likely to occur in indoor settings.
However, cross-infection can also happen at outdoor gatherings if two people with CF come into close contact.
To avoid cross-infection, doctors recommend people with CF stay at least 6 feet away from one another.
According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, people with CF who do not live together should also avoid the following:
- shaking hands or kissing each other
- riding in a car together
- sharing eating utensils, toothbrushes, or respiratory equipment
CF is a genetic condition that occurs when a person inherits two faulty copies of the CFTR gene — one from each parent.
If both parents carry a faulty copy of the CFTR gene, there is a 1 in 4 chance their offspring will have CF.
People with a family history of CF may choose to have genetic screening before having children. Genetic screening can determine whether an individual has a copy of the faulty CFTR gene that causes CF.
However, current genetic tests do not screen for all possible mutations in the CFTR gene.
Anyone with a family history of CF can speak with a doctor to learn more.
- frequent lung infections
- chronic cough
- wheezing or shortness of breath
- frequent sinus infections
- nasal polyps
- poor growth or weight gain in childhood
- skin that is sweaty and salty
- infertility in males
People with CF may also experience bowel problems, such as:
There is currently no cure for CF. However, treatments can help manage the condition and improve quality of life. According to the
- clear the airways
- improve the function of the faulty CFTR protein
- prevent disease complications
Treatment options that can help loosen mucus in the airways and ease breathing include:
- chest physical therapy
- therapy vests
- breathing techniques
- medications, such as:
- mucus thinners
- CFTR modulators
The National Health Service in the United Kingdom notes that people with CF may benefit from consulting with a dietitian. Since CF can affect a person’s digestive system, digesting food and absorbing nutrients can be difficult. A dietitian may recommend:
- eating a high calorie diet
- taking vitamin and mineral supplements
- using digestive enzyme capsules to assist digestion
In some cases, people with advanced CF
Although there are many treatments for CF, the condition can cause serious long-term health problems.
Moreover, some of the treatments for CF can be intensive, and this may have negative effects on a person’s mental health and overall well-being.
According to the American Lung Association, the current average life expectancy for people with CF is around 40 years. However, this number continues to grow as new research emerges.
Data from the 2021 Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Registry predicts that around half of babies born with CF in 2021 will go on to live 65 years or more.
The outlook for people with CF can depend on many factors, including whether they have other health conditions. Anyone living with CF can speak with a doctor to learn more about their unique outlook.
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about CF.
Is it safe to be around someone with cystic fibrosis?
CF is a genetic condition caused by a mutation in a certain gene. The condition is not contagious. People without CF cannot contract it from someone who has CF.
However, people with CF can transmit certain infections to other people with CF via cross-infection. To prevent cross-infection, doctors recommend people with CF who do not live together avoid close contact.
Can you kiss someone with cystic fibrosis?
A person cannot get CF from kissing someone who has the condition.
However, people with CF are more susceptible to certain infections. As such, a person who has an infection should avoid kissing a person with CF. This can help protect the person with CF from contracting dangerous infections.
How is cystic fibrosis transmitted?
Parents can transmit CF to their offspring through DNA. Specifically, if both parents carry the CFTR gene mutation that causes CF, there is a 1 in 4 chance their offspring will have CF.
Does cystic fibrosis need isolation?
People with CF typically develop frequent lung infections. They may need to isolate themselves from people with active infections to help reduce their risk of becoming sick.
However, it is not necessary for people with CF to remain isolated at all times.
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic condition that damages mucus-producing organs, such as the lungs, and the organs of the digestive system.
It occurs due to inheriting a faulty CFTR gene from each parent. The condition is not contagious. People with CF cannot transmit the disease to individuals who do not have it.
People with CF often develop breathing difficulties and frequent lung infections. They may also develop bowel problems or malnutrition.
The treatment for CF involves airway clearance techniques, medications, and lifestyle modifications. Anyone living with CF should speak with a doctor to learn more about their treatment plan and outlook.