Cystic Fibrosis-Related Diabetes | Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

The goal for managing CFRD is to keep your blood sugar (glucose) at normal or near-normal levels, and to maintain normal nutrition including muscle mass. Doing so will help you gain weight, maintain muscle mass, feel better, and have more energy. Maintaining normal glucose levels also lowers the risk of problems caused by diabetes.

CFRD can be well managed with:

  • Insulin.
  • Monitoring your blood sugar levels.
  • Eating your usual high-calorie diet.
  • Staying active.

Many people with CFRD are unsure about what to eat to manage their blood sugar levels. Fortunately, certain meal planning techniques can help.” — Gretchen Garlow, MS, RD, LDN, a CF dietitian, from the CF Community Blog

Taking Insulin

There are many types of insulin. They are grouped by how fast they work and how long they last in your body. You inject insulin into your body and it helps your cells absorb the energy (calories) from the food you eat. Calories in food come from carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Insulin helps your cells absorb these three nutrients so that you can achieve and maintain a healthy  weight and good nutritional status.

What You Eat Is Important

Since foods with carbohydrates turn into blood glucose when you digest them, you may need to count the carbohydrates in your foods so you can know how much insulin to take. Many people with CFRD will still need to eat the same high-calorie, high-protein, high-fat, and high-salt diet to help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. On the other hand, many people with CF find that taking highly effective CFTR modulators makes it easier for them to gain weight. Your diabetes care team can help you determine the eating plan that is right for you as well as the amount of insulin you need for your carbohydrates.

Physical activity like exercise can help you improve your body’s response to insulin. People with CFRD are encouraged to do at least 150 minutes of some type of moderate aerobic exercise every week. Aerobic exercise includes that require you to breathe in oxygen, like jogging or playing sports. Muscles use sugar for energy. So checking your blood sugar levels will allow you to remain active since exercise can cause the levels to drop.

If you have CFRD, be sure to check your blood sugar before and after exercise.” — Lee Degiorgio, an adult with CF, from the CF Community Blog

The Emotional Impact of Finding Out You Have CFRD

A CFRD diagnosis can have negative emotional effects. Many people with CF express frustration at having another long-term condition that takes time and effort to manage.  

CF already consumes so much of our daily lives. Do we really need to add blood sugar management on top of it all?” Megan LePore, an adult with CF, from the CF Community Blog. 

Coping with a new diagnosis like this can be difficult, but discussing it with your CF or diabetes care team may help. You may also find help through CF Peer Connect. CF Peer Connect is a one-to-one peer support program for people with cystic fibrosis and their family members age 16 and older. You can talk with and learn from someone who has gone through similar experiences.

Help From Your Care Team

If you are diagnosed with CFRD, your CF care team may expand to include an endocrinologist (a doctor with special training in the treatment of diabetes) and certified diabetes educators. Working with you, this team will design a plan to help you manage your diabetes while also maintaining your health with CF.

Download the manual, “Managing Cystic Fibrosis-Related Diabetes.”