The biggest challenge to the digestive system in persons with CF involves the failure of the pancreas to secrete the enzymes necessary to break down food before it reaches the intestines. A number of supplemental synthetic enzymes have been developed by pharmaceutical companies to aid in this process. However, complications can still occur.
Thick mucus present in the intestines prevents the body from absorbing vitamins, nutrients, fats and proteins thus rendering a person with CF malnourished. Blocked intestinal and pancreatic ducts contribute to episodes of bowel obstruction, which occur when stool content blocks the bowel and prevents the digestion process from proceeding normally.