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Get Help When You Are Sick

Smart people know when to ask for help. With cystic fibrosis (CF), you need to call your CF care team when you have an exacerbation.

What Are the Signs of an Exacerbation?

  • More sputum, coughing and bacteria, and maybe some blood in your sputum
  • More shortness of breath than usual
  • Fevers and loss of appetite
  • Falling lung function and decreasing weight

Treatment of Exacerbations

During an exacerbation, you may be asked to take oral antibiotics or intravenous (IV) antibiotics and to increase your overall therapy, including airway clearance.

If you had an exacerbation as a child, you know the routine. If it is your first one, you might find it upsetting. Remember that treating these exacerbations quickly and aggressively results in better maintenance of your overall lung health. Work with your CF health care team to make a plan for treating the exacerbation.

Adults with CF whose lung function (or FEV1) has become very low may find it harder and harder to do things that used to be easy. You may require more “routine” therapy at home and may need more frequent treatment of exacerbations. You may be given extra oxygen to ensure your body gets what it needs.

This may sound very frightening; that is a perfectly normal reaction. Share your fears and concerns with members of your health care team or with a psychologist. They will have worked with other people who have had similar experiences and will be able to help you make sense of your feelings. Ask at your care center whether there is a support group for people who share your concerns. 

Keep in mind that there are always new therapies being explored and developed to treat CF. They will make a difference!

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Updated 07/16/12