Treating Cystic Fibrosis

Although there is still no cure for cystic fibrosis (CF), new therapies and regular follow-up care are helping adults lead longer, fuller lives by improving breathing, controlling symptoms and reducing the likelihood of complications. Our team will work with you to develop an individualized plan that may include one or more of the following strategies.


Medications often play an important role in the treatment of adult cystic fibrosis. Our team can develop a medication regimen that is right for you, which may include:

  • Mucus-thinning medicines and other medications to help keep your airways clear
  • Ivacaftor, a medication that can help some people with CF who have mutations in a gene called G551D
  • Oral, inhaled or intravenous (IV) antibiotics to control infections.

We also offer a physician-led home IV service to give you IV antibiotics at home.

Airway Clearance

Freeing mucus from the lungs improves their function and is critical for managing CF. Our team can provide guidance on techniques and devices that allow patients to clear their airways at home.


Many adults with CF have digestive problems, such as constipation and pain. Nutrition therapy can help reduce these symptoms. Experts here at the University of Chicago Medicine can develop a customized plan that includes:

  • A well-balanced diet to help you maintain your weight
  • Oral enzymes to improve digestion
  • Vitamins and supplements to prevent nutritional deficiencies

Our team includes a registered dietitian with expertise in CF, who is available during each visit so you can ask questions and get dietary help. Our team can work with you to design a proper nutrition plan, especially for adults who have CF-related diabetes or patients with CF who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Our specialists can get you started in a pulmonary rehabilitation program, which includes exercise to improve or maintain lung function.

Home Oxygen Therapy

Adults with advanced CF may require oxygen therapy. Our team can help coordinate these in-home services for you.


We understand that managing CF as an adult can be a challenge. That's why our team of experts includes a psychologist and trained social workers who can help navigate challenges — whether it's transitioning from adolescence to adulthood or the struggle to balance the demands of CF care with the competing demands of life, including work and family. Our team of professionals also can help you handle insurance issues or manage medication costs through patient assistance programs.

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has accredited both our adult and pediatric cystic fibrosis programs, which are staffed by physicians and nurses who specialize in the treatment of this chronic disease. The foundation funds accredited centers and performs yearly reviews to ensure each center provides the best possible care.


Adults with severe CF may be candidates for lung transplant. If an adult wants to be evaluated for a transplant, our clinicians can refer you to University of Chicago Medicine’s highly skilled transplant team, which has cared for hundreds of lung transplant patients.