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Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is a disorder that causes severe lung damage and nutritional deficiencies.
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition that causes thickening of the mucus and sweat glands, clogging the lungs, making breathing difficult and facilitating infection due to bacteria growth. Additionally, students with cystic fibrosis may have issues with nutrient absorption, hydration, and diabetes. The symptoms of cystic fibrosis can vary over time but almost always become worse as the student ages. Additionally, because the symptoms and severity vary by individual and over time, students with cystic fibrosis may show no clear symptoms or may appear tired, weak, or have noticeable breathing problems. Some students will be awaiting the opportunity for a lung transplant and as they are highly susceptible to infection may need to avoid contracting viruses or infection.

Observing Cystic Fibrosis in the Classroom

Faculty might observe the following characteristics in students with cystic fibrosis:

  • May need to leave class if breathing becomes difficult
  • May need to be absent more frequently than other students
  • May need to withdraw for medical reasons
  • May have difficulty with extreme cold


Related Functional Characteristics

Allergies : Students with cystic fibrosis have a much higher susceptibility to allergens which often impacts their ability to breathe.

Breathing Difficulty : Students with cystic fibrosis have difficulty in cold weather and are very susceptible to infection, and may struggle during high pollen seasons.

Chemical Sensitivity : Students with cystic fibrosis should avoid exposure to inhalable chemicals (e.g. cigarette smoke, automobile exhaust) or chemical sprays such as pesticides.

Climate Sensitivity : Extremely cold temperatures can exacerbate breathing difficulties in students with cystic fibrosis, and extremely hot temperatures can increase their sweat production which can lead to dehydration and circulatory complications.

Dietary Needs : Students with cystic fibrosis may need to avoid certain foods which may aggravate symptoms.

Fatigue (Physical) : Students with cystic fibrosis may experience physical fatigue due to difficulty breathing, chronic cough, poor quality sleep, chronic pain, dehydration, or other physical symptoms.

Personal Care/ Medical Equipment Needs : Students with cystic fibrosis may require assistance with breathing equipment.

Susceptibility to Infection : Students are highly susceptible to bronchitis and pneumonia.

The Building Accepting Campus Communities (BACC) project was funded by the US Department of Education Office of Secondary Education grant #P333A080070-09. The University of Nebraska does not discriminate based on gender, age, disability, race, color, religion, marital status, veteran's status, national or ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.