Discharge Instructions for Cystic Fibrosis

Your child has been hospitalized with cystic fibrosis. This is an inherited, long-term disease that affects the lungs. It affects the lungs and digestive system most often. Researchers have found a defective gene that causes your body to make sticky mucus. The mucus clogs the lungs and blocks the release of enzymes from the pancreas. This may cause serious lung infections and problems with digesting and absorbing food.

There is no cure for cystic fibrosis. But there are treatments that can help your child have fewer lung infections and digestive problems and improve his or her life overall.

Preventing infection

  • Help keep your child’s lungs clear of extra mucus. Learn how to do chest physical therapy, including postural drainage and percussion on your child to help with this. Ask your child's healthcare provider for instructions.

  • Remind your child to wash his or her hands often, and correctly.

    • He or she should use soap and water and a lot of rubbing.

    • Make sure you have alcohol-based hand cleaner when soap and water aren't available.

    • Teach your child to keep his or her hands away from the face. Germs often get into the nose and mouth and then into the lungs this way.

  • Ask your child's healthcare provider about a yearly flu shot and other vaccinations.

  • Avoid crowds, especially in the winter, when more people have colds and the flu.

Aiding digestion

  • Learn about the special dietary needs of your child. Your child may need pancreatic enzymes to help with digestion.

  • If prescribed, make sure your child takes pancreatic enzymes exactly as instructed.

  • A nutritionist or dietitian can help you and your child. Ask your child's healthcare provider for a referral.

  • Some children have problems growing and gaining weight. Talk with your child's healthcare provider or nutritionist about which types and amounts of foods or supplements to include in your child's diet.

Other home care

  • Encourage your child to exercise regularly and drink lots of fluids.

  • Your child should see his or her healthcare provider at least every 3 months, or as directed.

  • Make sure you talk with your child about the dangers of smoking. He or she should not smoke and should stay away from others who do.


Make all follow-up appointments as soon as possible after leaving the hospital. Contact your child's healthcare provider sooner, if you have any questions or concerns.

Ask about the closes Cystic Fibrosis Center. These centers specialize in the care of children and adults with cystic fibrosis. You can check the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation website: http://www.cff.org. Or call 800-FIGHT CF (344-4823).

When to call your child's healthcare provider

Call the healthcare provider right away if your child has any of the following:

  • Severe constipation

  • Severe diarrhea

  • Abdominal pain

  • Vomiting

  • Decreased appetite

  • More mucus than usual, or mucus that is bloody or dark in color

  • Difficulty taking part in daily activities

  • More tired than usual

  • Fever

  • Worsening shortness of breath

Since each child is different, make sure you understand when to call the healthcare provider about your child's specific symptoms.