6 doctors weighed in:
How do you tell the difference between cystic fibrosis symptoms and asthma symptoms in a toddler?
6 doctors weighed in

Dr. HARRY OPSIMOS
Pediatrics - Pulmonology
2 doctors agree
In brief: CF vs asthma
There is some overlap.
Kids with CF often have other symptoms besides their respiratory ones, like oily stool, failure to gain weight, diarrhea. They can also get frequent bacterial lung infections that children with asthma do not often get. They also tend to produce phlegm that is thicker, white/green and looks more like pus, than the white/clear phlegm that children with asthma produce.

In brief: CF vs asthma
There is some overlap.
Kids with CF often have other symptoms besides their respiratory ones, like oily stool, failure to gain weight, diarrhea. They can also get frequent bacterial lung infections that children with asthma do not often get. They also tend to produce phlegm that is thicker, white/green and looks more like pus, than the white/clear phlegm that children with asthma produce.
Dr. HARRY OPSIMOS
Dr. HARRY OPSIMOS
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Dr. Michael P Vaughn
Internal Medicine - Allergy & Immunology
2 doctors agree
In brief: Cystic fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a rare genetic disease that alters cillia function.
Cillia are microscopic hair-cells that keep the lungs and sinuses sterile by sweeping bacteria up out of the lungs and down out of the sinuses. Although persons with asthma may have frequent infections, persons with CF typically stand out from their peers as being more difficult to medically manage.

In brief: Cystic fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a rare genetic disease that alters cillia function.
Cillia are microscopic hair-cells that keep the lungs and sinuses sterile by sweeping bacteria up out of the lungs and down out of the sinuses. Although persons with asthma may have frequent infections, persons with CF typically stand out from their peers as being more difficult to medically manage.
Dr. Michael P Vaughn
Dr. Michael P Vaughn
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1 comment
Dr. HARRY OPSIMOS
Just wanted to clarify that patients with cystic fibrosis do not have defective function of the cilia, rather a defect in some chloride channel function, on some cell membranes, that leads to defective airway clearance. Both diseases may have overlap of symptoms, but CF can affect a wide variety of systems in the body, while asthma affects the lungs. CF is a much more complicated disease and your pediatrician should be able to rule it out, via testing, if needed.
Dr. Amrita Dosanjh
Pediatrics - Pulmonology
In brief: CF sweat test
There is an overlap between the symptoms of CF and asthma.
Since CF can have many clinical presentations, a screening test is used. If he is wheezing in between mild viral illnesses, has poor growth, gastrointestinal problems, sinusitis, or a family history, a sweat test is indicated. The test is a screening test, and if there is any question that your child might have cf, he should be tested.

In brief: CF sweat test
There is an overlap between the symptoms of CF and asthma.
Since CF can have many clinical presentations, a screening test is used. If he is wheezing in between mild viral illnesses, has poor growth, gastrointestinal problems, sinusitis, or a family history, a sweat test is indicated. The test is a screening test, and if there is any question that your child might have cf, he should be tested.
Dr. Amrita Dosanjh
Dr. Amrita Dosanjh
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