Fact: Although it’s true that most people who have cystic fibrosis are diagnosed before age 2, it’s possible to be diagnosed later in life.
Symptoms that lead to eventual diagnosis in adults may include:
Very salty-tasting skin
Persistent coughing, at times with phlegm
Frequent lung infections, like pneumonia or bronchitis
Wheezing or shortness of breath
Small, fleshy growths in the nose called nasal polyps
History of bronchiectasis
With only 112 Cystic Fibrosis Care centers in operation, the number of doctors who are familiar with cystic fibrosis are few and far between. Even pulmonologists (heart-lung specialists) may not believe that a person with CF could survive into adulthood. Ignorance on the part of medical professionals is what makes the path to adult diagnosis so frustrating and discouraging.
Attempting to diagnose cystic fibrosis based on symptoms alone is unreasonable, as every case of cystic fibrosis is different. Even sweat tests which measure the concentration of salt lost when a suspected CF patient perspires are inconclusive and may give false negatives/positives.
Scientists have identified more than 1,500 mutations of the CF gene. Only a full genetic panel, like that offered by Ambry genetics can confirm or deny whether a person has cystic fibrosis. The Ambry panel tests all the known mutations not just the 24 most common ones.