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Cystic Fibrosis-Related Diabetes

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What is Cystic Fibrosis-Related Diabetes?

Cystic Fibrosis-Related Diabetes (CFRD) is a unique type of diabetes. It is not the same as diabetes in people without CF. The diagnosis and treatment are not exactly the same. CFRD is extremely common in people with CF especially as they get older. CFRD is found in 35 percent of adults aged 20 to 29 and 43 percent for those over 30 years old.

CFRD 6th edition cover

Download the 6th edition of the CFRD manual, “Managing Cystic Fibrosis-Related Diabetes (CFRD) – An Instruction Guide for Patients and Families.” (63 pages)

Causes of CFRD

There are two types of diabetes in the non-CF population - Type I diabetes (known as “insulin-dependent diabetes”) and Type II diabetes (known as “non-insulin dependent diabetes”).

CFRD has some features of both types of diabetes. People with CF do not make enough insulin. This is a result of scarring in the pancreas.

Insulin resistance is another reason people develop CFRD. Insulin resistance means your body does not use insulin normally.

Symptoms of CFRD

Common symptoms, such as increased thirst and increased urination, are caused by high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia). Other symptoms of CFRD are excessive fatigue, weight loss and unexplained decline in lung function.

Screening and Diagnosis

Many people with CFRD do not know they have it until they are tested for diabetes. Since many people with CF have no symptoms, this is the best way to find out if someone has CF-related diabetes.

People with CFRD who receive treatment for diabetes often start to feel better, gain weight and improve their lung function.

Treatment of CFRD

Insulin is the medication used to treat CFRD. It allows sugars and proteins to move from the blood into the body’s cells. It is used for energy and to build muscle.

Keeping blood glucose levels at a normal or near-normal level helps you gain weight, feel better and have more energy. It also lowers the risk of problems caused by diabetes.

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Updated 05/16/12

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is an accredited charity of the Better Business Bureau.