Cystic Fibrosis And The Role Of School Personnel

This article by Anthony Coe explains important information about Cystic Fibrosis from the perspective that educators will need to understand their students’ needs.

What is it?

Cystic Fibrosis is an exocrine gland disorder that causes overproduction of thick mucous with can obstruct glands and destroy pancreatic tissue. It is frequently related to chronic respiratory disease in which mucous blocks the lungs, and a person is unable to remove bacteria and dust from the lungs, so the lungs collapse. This is a frequent cause of death for people with cystic fibrosis.

Physical Symptoms

Cystic Fibrosis can lead to malnutrition because of malabsorption in the pancreas or to Cor Pulmonale in which the right heart ventricle fails and causes improper circulation. Other frequent health problems include middle ear infections, cirrhosis of the liver, diabetes, and high levels of sodium chloride. Children with cystic fibrosis can have frequent chest and sinus infections, suffer from heat exhaustion, and be more prone to diabetes. In teens, it causes delayed puberty.

Classroom Issues

Some cases of cystic fibrosis are mild, but others are much more severe. The severity of the case will affect how much the disease will impact a student in the classroom. Often children with CF are shorter and thinner due to delayed puberty. They may often have to miss school or be hospitalized. This can create difficulties in peer acceptance and insecurity. CF can also place a strain on family life, which educators need to be aware of. In some families there is severe parental guilt and anxiety that causes over protectiveness. Additionally, siblings may feel resentful and ignored. Sometimes group or individual therapy may be suggested. Lastly, teachers with students with CF must be flexible to meet their needs, allowing for extra bathroom or water breaks, if necessary, and trips to the school nurse, as well as accepting the frequent coughing.


Teachers need to understand the situations of all of their students in order to meet their different needs. By having some base knowledge about cystic fibrosis, teachers are more equipped to understand and help their students. This also extends to helping other students come to terms with their classmate.

Coe, Anthony. (1989). Cystic Fibrosis: An Introduction and the Role of School Personnel. Find the attached article below under the files section.

Posted by Theresa Garcia de Quevedo