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Treatment for Cystic Fibrosis

Although there is still no cure for CF, new therapies and regular follow-up care are helping adults lead longer, fuller lives by improving breathing, controlling symptoms and reducing the likelihood of complications. Our team will work with you to develop an individualized plan that may include one or more of the following strategies.


Medications often play an important role in an adult cystic fibrosis patient's treatment plan. Our team can develop a medication regimen that is right for you, which may include:

  • Mucus-thinning medicines and other medications to help keep airways clear
  • Ivacaftor, a new medication that can help some people with CF who have mutations in a gene called G551D
  • Oral, inhaled or intravenous (IV) antibiotics to control infections

We also offer a physician-led, home IV service to administer IV antibiotics, when needed.

Airway Clearance

Freeing mucus from the lungs improves their function and is critical for managing CF. Our team can provide guidance on techniques and devices that allow patients to clear their airways at home.


Many adults with CF have digestive problems, such as constipation and pain. Nutrition therapy can help reduce these symptoms. Experts here at the University of Chicago Medicine can develop a customized plan that includes:

  • A well-balanced diet to help you maintain your weight
  • Oral enzymes to improve digestion
  • Vitamins and supplements to prevent nutritional deficiencies

A registered dietitian with expertise in CF is available every time you visit the center to discuss your needs. She also can design a proper nutrition plan for adults who have CF-related diabetes or patients with CF who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Our specialists can get you started in a pulmonary rehabilitation program, which includes exercise to improve or maintain lung function.

Home Oxygen Therapy

Adults with advanced CF may require oxygen therapy. Our team can help coordinate these services for you.


Managing CF as an adult can be a challenge for many patients. Some may find it difficult to take responsibility for their own care as they move from adolescence to adulthood. Others may struggle to balance the demands of their care with the competing demands of life, including work and family.

Our team includes a psychologist and social workers who can help patients develop strategies to cope with their chronic illness over the long term. These caring professionals also can help adults handle insurance issues or access medications through patient assistance programs, when available.


Adults with severe CF may be candidates for lung transplant. If an adult wants to be evaluated for a transplant, our clinicians can refer you to University of Chicago Medicine’s highly skilled lung transplant team. The team has cared for more than 500 lung transplant patients.