Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > How Cystic Fibrosis Affects Digestion and the Pancreas
Browse and register for related classes.
Cystic fibrosis often affects the pancreas and
digestive system because the
mucus in these areas becomes thick and sticky. If this
occurs, the mucus blocks normal digestive function as well as harbors
The digestive system is responsible for breaking down food, absorbing
nutrients from the food, and ridding the body of waste products. The
pancreas is an organ that is located in the upper
abdomen, behind the stomach and close to the spine. It produces digestive
enzymes, which travel to the intestines and break down (digest) food so that
nutrients can be absorbed by the body.
In cystic fibrosis, mucus clogs the pancreas, and digestive enzymes
are not able to get to the intestine. So food is not properly digested,
particularly fats and proteins. A related symptom is large, greasy, smelly stools.
Lack of nutrition prevents normal growth and development in babies
and children. Unhealthy weight loss and difficulty gaining or maintaining
weight are common problems for many people of all ages who have cystic
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is common in people who have cystic fibrosis.
In addition to enzymes, the pancreas also produces insulin, a
hormone that helps control blood sugar. Over time, the abnormal buildup of
enzymes starts to break down pancreatic tissue. This slows and may eventually
stop insulin production, resulting in
Cystic fibrosis may also affect the bowel and liver in the
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - PediatricsSpecialist Medical ReviewerSusanna McColley, MD - Pediatric Pulmonology
Current as ofSeptember 9, 2014
Current as of:
September 9, 2014
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Susanna McColley, MD - Pediatric Pulmonology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
250 Pleasant Street
Concord, NH 03301
Contact Concord Hospital
View Quality Data
© 2015 Concord Hospital