Skip to main content

Managing cystic fibrosis-related diabetes.

People with cystic fibrosis (CF) can develop a medical problem called cystic fibrosis-related diabetes (CFRD). In fact, it occurs in about one in five patients with CF, making CFRD one of the most common CF-related health issues.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition in which the body doesn’t produce insulin or doesn’t respond to insulin the right way. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that helps sugar (glucose) enter cells, where it is converted into energy. People with diabetes can’t effectively convert food to energy.

There are two main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1: When the body doesn’t make any insulin
  • Type 2: When the body doesn’t respond to insulin the right way

CFRD has features of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. For some people with CF, CFRD happens only some of the time, for example, when they have an infection or are on steroid treatments. This is called intermittent CFRD. For others, CFRD is present at all times. This is called chronic CFRD and only responds to insulin therapy rather than oral therapies.

What causes CFRD?

There are a few factors. First, the pancreas of a person with CF doesn’t produce enough insulin to meet their needs. This is most likely due to scarring from the thickened secretions. Also, many people with CF don’t respond to the insulin their bodies produce (insulin resistance).

What are the symptoms of CFRD?

Common symptoms of CFRD include:

  • Urinating often (polyuria)
  • Being thirsty often (polydipsia)
  • Having a hard time keeping up with weight or sudden weight loss
  • Feeling very tired (fatigue)
  • Worsening of lung function

Call your CVS Specialty CF CareTeam at 1-866-845-6790 or your CF treatment center if you have any of these symptoms. Your CF treatment center can then run tests to look for CFRD.

What are some CFRD-related problems?

CFRD causes the same health problems as type 1 and type 2 diabetes, including eye, kidney, circulation and nerve problems. You can effectively manage CFRD and help prevent these problems with proper training and by working with your CF treatment center.

If you have questions, call your CF CareTeam at 1-866-845-6790.

This information is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about your medical condition and prior to starting any new treatment. CVS Specialty assumes no liability whatsoever for the information provided or for any diagnosis or treatment made as a result, nor is it responsible for the reliability of the content.

CVS Specialty does not operate all the websites/organizations listed here, nor is it responsible for the availability or reliability of their content. These listings do not imply or constitute an endorsement, sponsorship, or recommendation by CVS Specialty.

Your privacy is important to us. Our employees are trained regarding the appropriate way to handle your private health information.