A 9-year-old girl is admitted to the hospital with cystic fibrosis. She also has a history of frequent respiratory infections. The child's susceptibility to respiratory infections is directly related to the fact that cystic fibrosis causes which of these physiological alterations?


• Cystic fibrosis is a chronic disorder of the exocrine glands characterized by abnormally thick pulmonary secretions. Children with cystic fibrosis have generalized dysfunction of the exocrine glands affecting the pancreas, respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, salivary glands, and reproductive tract.

• Mucus secretions of the body, particularly from the pancreas and the lungs, have difficulty flowing through gland ducts.

• Bacteria thrive in the excessively thick mucus of the lungs. Secretions accumulate in the respiratory tract, causing obstruction and air trapping and increasing the incidence of respiratory infections.

• Incorrect: A collapsed lung will occur in patients with emphysema.

• Incorrect: Cystic fibrosis involves obstructed bronchioles, not alveoli.

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