Normal vs Abnormal Mucus and Cystic Fibrosis
CF is a disease that gets worse over time. There is no cure, but there are treatment options that may help. Learn why lungs produce mucus in the first place, and what happens when they produce too much.
What's the difference?
The lungs naturally produce a layer of mucus that protects them. In healthy lungs, mucus helps
keep bacteria on the move so they don't linger and
respiratory tract infection.
For people living with CF, however, the mucus is thicker than normal. The body also produces more mucus than usual. The thick, sticky mucus in the lungs obstructs airways and allows bacterial infection and inflammation to occur. White blood cells, called neutrophils, are sent to fight these infections.
Sticky mucus contributes to the progression of
Cystic Fibrosis over time
In the process of fighting these infections, white blood cells leave behind remains called extracellular DNA that can make mucus extra thick and sticky. Ordinarily mucus would clear these "leftovers" (i.e., extracellular DNA) from the lungs. When it can't, some of these leftover remains can cause damage to the lungs. The DNA left behind makes the mucus even thicker and stickier, which leaves your lungs even more vulnerable to damage.