In a day and age when there seems to medications for just about everything that ails us, sometimes it is surprising to learn that there are many diseases and disorders that not fully treatable or curable. What can be heartbreaking in all this is the fact that genetics can play such a significant part in the cards we are dealt in life. One of those unfortunate instances occurs when both parents are carriers of an altered gene that produces Cystic Fibrosis in a child. This does not suggest a death sentence, but indicates a life with weighty health problems and continual care.
Usually, Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is diagnosed at a young age, especially if parents are vigilant about pediatric health and milestone visits. However, diagnosis and testing in adolescences and adulthood may be required. This would come if an individual had recurring stints of pancreatitis, bronchiectasis, polyps in nasal passages or chronic sinus or lung infections.
Characterization of Cystic Fibrosis
CF is a disease that causes the mucus, sweat and digestive fluids throughout the body to become thick and sticky. It builds up in organs, especially lungs and pancreas, causing problems with breathing, nutritional intake, affects to growth, and proper digestion. Some very outward symptoms that people should be aware of include:
- Increased heart rate
- Heat stroke
- Low blood pressure
How is Low Blood Pressure Linked to Cystic Fibrosis?
The correlation between low blood pressure and CF may seem a bit contradictory, particularly when factoring in the point that mucus can line the lungs and effect breathing. However, there are two traits that contribute to low blood pressure: one of the traits is a dilated or slightly enlarged arterial system. The other is the tendency to have excessive salty sweat. These traits have common factors that cause blood pressure to be low.
Enlarged Arterial System
Many people, mainly those suffering with hypertension, would express a sentiment of jealousy because this the opposite issue with which they are dealing. Hypotension comes with its own set of sometimes life-threating qualities including lack of oxygen and nutrients to vital organs, dizziness and fainting spells, seizures and shock. The dilated arteries allow blood to flow more freely throughout the circulatory system, which doesn’t restrict or put much stress on the arteries, thus giving you a low blood pressure reading.
The body naturally secretes sweat as a mechanism to cool the body. What typically happens when people sweat is that sodium and chloride carry water from lower layers of the skin to the surface and are reabsorbed once the water has evaporated. However, individuals with CF, their bodies do no reabsorb the salt and chloride, leaving their skin with a much saltier taste. This also leaves the person with a depletion of necessary salts to continue the cooling process in the body. Low salt levels are linked with the exact characteristics listed above of outward symptoms and may also include fever, muscle cramps severe stomach pains and vomiting, especially after exertion.
Living with Cystic Fibrosis
Those living with cystic fibrosis don’t necessarily want to be excluded from or limited in participation to physical or normal activity levels as their peers. Some precautionary and preventative measures can be taken; sports drinks containing electrolytes help to replace and replenish lost salts and potassium, along with just keeping well hydrated at all times. Avoid smoking, and smoke-filled areas as this can aggravate the already compromised breathing paths. Regular visits with doctors, including physical therapists specializing in breathing and chest treatments.
A simple practice that can be examined at home, and has the potential to indicate if the body is on the verge of fighting something significant, is monitoring blood pressure levels. This is made even more convenient with many of the digital blood pressure monitors available on the market. This wasn’t always an easy process to check with a blood pressure cup and stethoscope, especially if you didn’t have a full understanding of how to figure the systolic and diastolic readings. Many medical facilities now utilize these digital blood pressure machines as they are quick, accurate and sometimes provide other vital information such as heartrate.
Because blood pressure can rise and fall very quickly, sometimes due to stress levels, anxiety, exercise or rapid movement, readings can vary quite significantly. The ability to document over a long period of time the results can lead to being able to conduct a more regular routine in your life. To be most accurate, documenting other influences at the time of taking the blood pressure will also point out ways to better control the dips and peaks to avoid the more calamitous outcomes.
Managing Cystic Fibrosis
There are many levels of severity of CF and thus many ranges of treatments, medications and assistance that can be sought. Understand that there is no cure for CF is part of managing the emotional or psychological aspect of the disease. But, stating again, this is by no means a death sentence for someone that received a diagnosis, just a change in many routines throughout life. As part of the management of CF, there is several categories of which individuals can govern.
- Avoid areas and situations that aggravate symptoms
- Nutritional supplements as needed
- Always keeping very well hydrated
- Being as physically healthy and strong as possible
- Antibiotics for any internal infections
- Medicines to thin out bronchial mucus making it easier to cough up
- Prescription for bronchodilator to open airways
- Breathing and physical manipulation techniques to clear lungs
- Specific exercise training for personal abilities
- Nutritional counseling for specific needs
More Aggressive and Surgical Procedures
- Removal of nasal polyps
- Oxygen therapy
- Endoscopic suction of lungs
- Surgical removal of bowel obstructions
- Lung transplant
All this information may seem overwhelming and have a direct effect on your blood pressure at this moment. However, knowledge and understand should give you power to take control of the challenges that you may be facing with cystic fibrosis. Truly, there is proof and clear correlation between having CF and a lower blood pressure. Luckily this is one of the simplest things to track and trace from just about anywhere, and is made very straightforward to monitor. There are many things not in your control, take control of what you can.
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