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How does cystic fibrosis interfere with gas exchange in the lungs?

Last updated date: 20th Jun 2024
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Hint: Cystic fibrosis is an autosomal and inherited life-threatening recessive disorder and is transmitted from the parents to the children.

Complete answer:
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition and this disorder is inherited from the parents. The infected person has two copies of the defective gene that causes this disease. It is a recessive disorder and thus, both the parents should at least be a carrier of this disease. The CFTR ( cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator ) gene is mutated and thus, gets defected. This gene is responsible for the movement of water and salts.

In this disease, the lungs and the digestive system of the individuals are affected as the cells producing mucus, sweat, and digestive juices have defaulted. The faulty gene converts these thin and smooth fluids to become thick and sticky. These fluids that earlier acted as a lubricant now clogs and blocks the passage of various tubes and ducts. This disorder can be life-threatening and shorten the lifespan of an individual.

The process of gas exchange occurs during respiration in living organisms. The exchange of gases occurs due to their concentration gradient. The primary parts of the lungs that play a role in this process are the alveoli and their capillaries. The gases involved in this gaseous exchange are- oxygen and carbon dioxide and their exchange occur through the process of diffusion or due to the difference in concentration gradients.

Cystic fibrosis can affect the gaseous exchange in the alveoli and can also cause respiratory failure. The thick mucus produced during this disorder clogs the air passage and thus, affects the process of breathing. The gaseous exchange in the alveoli will be hindered as the supply of air into the lungs is less. The oxygen will not be transported to the blood tissues and the body parts and thus, the body will experience a deficiency of oxygen. The mucus is also capable of trapping germs and thus can also produce severe infections in the lungs and the trachea. It can cause shortening of breath and a persistent cough. The deficiency of oxygen can be fatal for the individual.

Note: Although there is no permanent cure for this disease, earlier diagnosis can help in the treatment and can produce an increase in the life span of an individual. The tests performed to diagnose the disease are- Blood test, DNA test, Immunoreactive trypsinogen test, sweat chloride test, etc.