“Cystic fibrosis is a hereditary disease that usually appears during early childhood. This generalized disorder of the exocrine glands is characterized by respiratory problems and excessive loss of salt in perspiration (Hardman, Drew, Egan, 2002, p. 508).
” This is a disorder of secretion glands, which produces abnormal amounts of mucus, sweat, and salvia. The three major organ systems that are affected are: the pancreas, lungs and the sweet glands. Cystic fibrosis also affects the respiratory and digestive systems.
This disease is not contagious, and affects each person differently. Nowadays, improvements in dietary supplements and better treatments can lead to a fairly normal life. The name cystic fibrosis describes the changes that occur in the pancreas, usually starting at an early age. It is usually diagnosed soon after birth, and symptoms occur throughout life. The disease occurs in about 30,000 Americans, mostly children and young adults (Waldholz, 1990).
Cystic fibrosis causes the body to produce thick, sticky mucus, which builds up clogging the lungs and impending breathing and digestion. In many cases, children with cystic fibrosis do not appear to be suffering from a serious disorder. Inconspicuous physical symptoms may be: persistent coughing and wheezing, excessive appetite with poor weight gain, salty or sweaty skin, respiratory infections, like pneumonia, protruding abdomen, enlarged finger tips and bulky, foul smelling stools (Harris & Super, 1995).
In order to inherit cystic fibrosis, a child must receive two cystic fibrosis genes, one from each parent. Each time two carriers of the cystic fibrosis gene conceive a child, there is a 25 percent chance the child will inherit cystic fibrosis. In many cases we can now tell if a person carries a defective cystic fibrosis gene by directly testing his or her genetic material (Harris & Super, 1995). Most likely, the condition of a student with cystic fibrosis is generally fair to good, allowing him or her to attend school on a regular basis.On the other hand, there are those children with the disease whose condition is so severe that they cannot go to school regularly.
A teacher can help a student with cystic fibrosis in many ways. The teacher must be informed and willing to learn about the unique needs of the child with cystic fibrosis in the classroom. For example, schedule a conference with parents before the school year begins to discuss medications, prosthetic devices, levels of desired physical activity, and so on (Hardman et al. , 2002).A way to help the child socially is to inform the other children in the class, and help them become aware of their crucial role in contributing to the well being of the child with cystic fibrosis. Teachers have to be sure that plans have been made and practiced in case of an emergency situation, such as if a child needs to be carried out of the building.
If a child’s condition is life treating, a teacher must begin to discuss consequence of death and loss to the other students; Many excellent books are available for children (Hardman et al. 2002).The outlook for a child with cystic fibrosis has improved dramatically, and with medical advances most children live into his or her forties. Social and psychological problems of children are directly related to, “chronic coughing, small stature, offensive stools, gas, delayed onset of puberty and secondary sex characteristics, and unsatisfying social relationships (Hardman et al. , 2002, p. 509). ” These psychological problems can affect not only the person with cystic fibrosis, but individual family member and the family as a whole.
There is still no cure for cystic fibrosis. However, gradual progress is being made in treating at least some aspects of the disease. Common treatments being done to help children with cystic fibrosis are regular visits to the hospital to help clear the lungs from being clogged.
Postal drainage is done on a day to day basis, usually twice a day to help regulate breathing. To help digestive problems, supplements of pancreatic enzymes are prescribed, along with a diet high in calories to help the body absorb proper nutrients.It is not rare for children to ingest more then 25 pills a day (Pierce, 1990). Waldholz claims, “Scientist have discovered the gene that, when mutated causes the disease. Several teams of researchers launched independent and collaborative efforts to show that cells in the lungs and pancreas could be corrected by giving then healthy versions of the gene (1990, p. 26). ” However, even with all the medical advances of today, there still should be many years before there is a proven means of treating this disease.