What is Cystic Fibrosis-Related Diabetes?

Cystic Fibrosis-Related Diabetes (CFRD) is a unique type of diabetes that occurs in people with cystic fibrosis. It is not the same as diabetes in people without CF. The diagnosis and treatment is not exactly the same. CFRD becomes more common in people with CF, especially as they get older.

What causes CFRD?

There are two types of diabetes in the non-CF population – Type I diabetes (known as “insulin-dependent diabetes”) and Type II diabetes (known as “non-insulin dependent diabetes”).

CFRD has some features of both types of diabetes. People with CF do not make insulin. This is a result of scarring in the pancreas.

Insulin resistance is another reason people develop CFRD. Insulin resistance means your body does not use insulin normally.

What are symptoms of CFRD?

Common symptoms, such as increased thirst and increased urination, are caused by high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia). Other symptoms of CFRD are excessive fatigue, weight loss and unexplained decline in lung function.

What screening is done?

Many people with CFRD may not know they have the condition until they’re tested for diabetes.

In screening for CRFT, blood tests are obtained annually as part of the standards of care for all people with CF. One of the blood tests includes a random glucose level. If the random glucose level is high, additional testing and evaluation will be done.

People with CFRD who receive treatment for diabetes often start to feel better, gain weight and improve lung function.

How is CFRD treated?

Insulin, used to treat CFRD, allows sugars and proteins to pass from the bloodstream to the body’s cells where they help build muscle and energy.