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Cystic Fibrosis-Related Diabetes (CFRD) is a unique type of diabetes. It is not the same as diabetes in people without CF. The diagnosis and treatment are not exactly the same. CFRD is extremely common in people with CF especially as they get older. CFRD is found in 35 percent of adults aged 20 to 29 and 43 percent of those over 30 years old.
People with CF do not make enough insulin. This is a result of scarring in the pancreas.
Insulin resistance is another reason people develop CFRD. Insulin resistance means your body does not use insulin normally.
Common symptoms, such as increased thirst and increased urination, are caused by high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia). Other symptoms of CFRD are excessive fatigue, weight loss and unexplained decline in lung function.
Many people with CFRD do not know they have it until they are tested for diabetes by having a two hour Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT). Since many people with CF have no symptoms of CFRD, this test is the best way to find out if someone has CF-related diabetes. People with CFRD who receive treatment for diabetes often start to feel better, gain weight and improve their lung function.
Insulin is the medication used to treat CFRD. It allows sugars and proteins to move from the blood into the body’s cells. It is used for energy and to build muscle.
Keeping blood glucose levels at a normal or near-normal level helps you gain weight, feel better and have more energy. It also lowers the risk of problems caused by diabetes.
Download the Managing Cystic Fibrosis Related Diabetes Manual, An Instruction Guide for Patients and Families, 5th edition (80 pages). If it is determined that you have CFRD an appointment will be set up at a diabetes education center.