While many people with cystic fibrosis (CF) and COVID-19 have a mild to moderate illness, others are at a high risk of serious illness. This includes those who have a history of lung transplants or other health problems related to CF.
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic condition that affects the lungs and several other organs. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation estimates that close to 40,000 children and adults in the United States are living with CF.
People with chronic lung diseases are at an increased risk of serious illness due to COVID-19. But what exactly does that mean for people with CF? Continue reading for what you need to know about COVID-19 if you have CF.
The effects of CF cause mucus in the airways and other parts of the body to be too thick. In the lungs, this can cause damage and make respiratory infections more likely.
What does the research say?
Reports early in the pandemic from
In fact, some research suggests that people with CF may be more resistant to SARS-CoV-2. A
Because this gene is faulty in people with CF, there are fewer receptors on the surface of airway cells. This means that it’s harder for the virus to establish an infection.
Who’s more at risk of serious illness?
Despite the findings discussed above, every individual with CF is different and there are some subsets of people with CF who researchers have found are at a higher risk of serious illness.
One of these groups
According to an
Having COVID-19 can cause many different complications that are often, but not always, associated with more serious illness. These may be experienced by anyone who contracts SARS-CoV-2. Some examples include:
- blood clots
- lung scarring
- liver injury
- acute coronary syndrome
- acute kidney injury
- acute respiratory distress syndrome
It’s also possible to develop
- persistent fatigue
- shortness of breath
- heart palpitations
- pins-and-needles sensations
- brain fog
Lastly, some people with CF, particularly those at risk of serious illness, may experience a CF exacerbation due to COVID-19 illness. A CF exacerbation typically involves a sudden worsening of your CF symptoms and reduced lung function.
The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for people with CF. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation encourages everyone with CF, as well as their family members, to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
- type of CF symptoms
- level of CF severity
- medications being taken
- type of CF-related mutation present
Generally speaking, the symptoms of COVID-19 in people with CF appear to be similar to those in the general population. These include:
- fever, with or without chills
- sore throat
- muscle aches
- loss of smell or taste
- runny or stuffy nose
- shortness of breath
- digestive symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
If you have CF and contract SARS-CoV-2, there are
However, one of these, nirmatrelvir/ritonavir (
Lifestyle-related treatments for COVID-19 include:
- getting plenty of rest
- staying hydrated
- using over-the-counter (OTC) medications to ease symptoms like fever and aches and pains
As mentioned earlier,
Additionally, one small
After 6 months, there was no difference in the FEV1 or likelihood of a CF exacerbation between the two groups.
Despite this, it’s still important to note that some people with CF, such as those who’ve had a lung transplant and those with other CF-related health issues, are at a higher risk of serious illness or complications due to COVID-19.
The best way to prevent serious illness due to COVID-19 is to
According to the
- avoiding contact with those who are sick with COVID-19 or are suspected to have COVID-19
- washing your hands frequently
- increasing indoor ventilation
- moving activities outside, if possible
- wearing a mask or practicing social distancing, if necessary
Do I need to stop taking my cystic fibrosis medications if I get COVID-19?
Are there other infections that can cause problems for people with cystic fibrosis?
Many people with CF have mild to moderate illness after developing COVID-19. However, some people with CF are at a higher risk of having serious COVID-19, such as people who’ve had a lung transplant and those with other CF-related health problems.
If you have CF, the best way to protect yourself from serious COVID-19 illness is to stay up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines. Should you develop COVID-19, antiviral treatments can help to prevent serious illness.
Every person with CF is different. If you have questions or concerns about your level of risk due to COVID-19, have an open conversation with a doctor.