Cystic fibrosis

An overview of Providence Health Care’s services and resources for adults living with cystic fibrosis.


Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited disorder that causes severe damage to the lungs, digestive system and other organs in the body.

If you have CF, your lungs are likely the most impacted, with infections requiring antibiotic treatment and potential hospitalization. Over time, the lungs become damaged. Some people living with CF will require a lung transplant at some point in order to prolong life.

However, with improved therapies, people are living much longer and healthier lives with CF.

Cystic fibrosis produces a variety of symptoms including:

  • Persistent cough with productive thick mucous
  • Wheezing and shortness of breath
  • Frequent chest infections, which may include pneumonia
  • Bowel disturbances, such as intestinal obstruction or frequent, oily stools
  • Weight loss or failure to gain weight despite possible increased appetite
  • Salty tasting sweat
  • Infertility (men) and decreased fertility (women)

Diagnosis & testing

To diagnose cystic fibrosis, doctors typically do a physical exam, review your symptoms and conduct several tests.

If a doctor suspects you could have CF, a “sweat test” may be administered. This test measures the amount of salt content present in the sweat. If the test comes back positive, it means the sweat collected contains more salt than usual. A higher salt content supports a diagnosis of CF.

Other ways of detecting the presence of CF include genetic testing, prenatal and newborn screening.

Treatment & management

People with CF are living longer with the help of better medications, better nutrition and continuously improving therapies. However, this is resulting in new challenges, such as diabetes, osteoporosis, and family planning.

Clinics that treat cystic fibrosis

Support services

Providence Health Care offers a variety of services to support those we care for. The following services may be of use or benefit to you and your families.

Support for Indigenous Peoples

The Indigenous Wellness Liaison Team is here to support your health journey. Team members offer cultural support and healthcare advocacy. Learn more below or call them at 604-682-2344,62937 or email

  • Indigenous wellness services

    The Indigenous Wellness Team at Providence is available to support Indigenous patients and their families. We are here to coordinate culturally safe wellness supports and services.

Education & resources

There are numerous organizations in BC which offer resources and information helpful to people living with CF. These include online blogs and sites where you can connect with others in the CF community.

Clinical trials & research

The St. Paul’s Hospital Adult Cystic Fibrosis Program is committed to improving the quality of life and health outcomes of individuals living with CF.

We are involved in clinical studies that:

  • Improve our understanding of CF lung disease and other CF-related complications
  • Evaluate new investigational CF drugs
  • Improve the quality of CF care delivery.

By participating in research studies offered through our clinic, you are making a valuable contribution to advancing the care of CF patients. Participation in research is completely voluntary and the clinical care you receive is not affected by your decision.

Medical & professional referrals

Information for healthcare providers who have patients living with cystic fibrosis (CF) can be found here.

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