Breakthrough Treatment for Cystic Fibrosis Involving Salt Water
Scientists may have discovered a breakthrough treatment for cystic
fibrosis (CF). The treatment is inexpensive, safe and easy to do.
According to researchers at the University of North Carolina, by
inhaling a saltwater aerosol solution at least twice a day for between
10 and 15 minutes, patients should be able to avoid a “significant part
of the damage the disease causes to their lungs”.
The new saline water treatments appear to promote the “clearance of the
naturally occurring mucus the body uses to trap harmful bacteria,
viruses and other foreign particles.” The solution may produce a “water
layer” in the lungs promoting the removal.
It now appears the surfaces of the lungs of CF patients are dehydrated.
Healthy people have a 5 to 10 micron thick, coating of water in the
lungs that helps lubricate the open areas of the lungs. By restoring
hydration with the hypertonic saline solution, you are treating the
“basic cause of this disease”.
Since respiratory failure is the leading cause of death in CF patients,
this finding is very important. According to Dr. Scott H Donaldson,
assistant professor of Medicine, "We are very excited that this simple
and inexpensive therapy turned out to be so effective and well-tolerated
in patients with CF."
Cystic fibrosis is the leading fatal genetic illness among whites, and
effects 1 in 2,500 children born. About one in five babies with CF are
diagnosed at birth. This happens when their gut becomes blocked by
extra thick meconium (a black tar-like bowel contents that all babies
pass soon after birth). Some children with CF don’t put weight on
because their pancreas is not producing enzymes that help digest fat.
Typically the stools contain the extra fat and are oily and very smelly.
Patients with CF will also symptoms involving the lungs. In a healthy
person there is a constant flow of mucus over the air passages in the
lungs. This is an important process to remove debris and bacteria.
Cystic fibrosis will cause the mucus to become excessively sticky.
Bacteria can then grow in this environment.
Current therapy includes daily vigorous massages to help loosen the
sticky mucus. If an infection occurs it is important to treat it
quickly with antibiotics. It is important for people with CF to be
vaccinated against the flu and pneumococcus to prevent chest infections.
"Sustained Improvement in Mucus Clearance and Lung Function in Cystic
Fibrosis with Hypertonic Saline" will be published in the January 19
issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). The research was
carried out at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of
Medicine and UNC Hospitals. This week's NEJM also includes a report by
Australian researchers who followed 164 patients receiving a similar
treatment for nearly one year, as well as an editorial about the two
Best Syndication Staff Writer
Keywords and misspellings: systic fibrosis sycstic