Do You Know Enough About Cystic Fibrosis and “Old People’s Tests”?

As a registered nurse, I have taken care of a fair share of the senior population. I have heard some great stories and also some funny quotes. Several older individuals have told me, “Getting old isn’t for sissies!” Of course, we all laugh and go on with our day. With research and new drugs hitting the market, people who have cystic fibrosis (CF) are living longer and better lives.

However, with life expectancy increasing for cystic fibrosis, there’s now is a need for those “mid-life” tests we all have to receive. For example, the dreaded other “C” word: colonoscopy. Your internal medicine doctor will preach the need for that dreaded procedure as soon as you turn 50. (“Happy Mid Century Birthday! We need you to drink this gallon of Go-Lytely, even though we all know that ‘lytely’ is not going to happen!” A little nurse humor, there.)

Research has found that having CF means your risk of developing adenomatous polyps can be high. These are mostly non-cancerous when found, but they have a higher chance of becoming cancerous than any other type of polyp. So if you have CF, it’s best to have that colonoscopy at 40 instead of 50.

Individuals living with CF are also at risk for cancers that spread to other parts of the body as well. Breast cancer is the #1 killer of women, so it recommended that you get a mammogram every year starting at age 40.

Aging bones don’t get a pass, either… in fact, it’s common for us to lose bone as a common trait of getting older. Bone loss is when the bones become porous. This puts you at risk for osteopenia and osteoporosis, which puts you at a high risk for bone fractures. So, getting a bone density test every 1-5 years is very important.

Since CF also affects the pancreas, there have been a lot of CF-related diabetes cases. It is important to continue having your blood sugars monitored, watch what you eat, and have your hemoglobin A1C checked. It is also important to be checked regularly for high blood pressure and also to have a diabetic eye exam yearly.

As a registered nurse, the older population has always been my favorite. Thanks to research and people’s passion to find cures, people are living longer, healthier lives.

So, when was your last check up?

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