I am 33 years old and I have cystic fibrosis, which used to be called “cystic fibrosis of the pancreas.” I am an old hand at this disease, and I know that Europeans call it “mucoviscidosis.” Do you think that this term better describes the disease?
The term “cystic fibrosis of the pancreas” does not indicate the full extent of the disease; it only describes the changes occurring in the pancreas. However, the term used today is simply “cystic fibrosis,” which also encompasses the changes that occur in the lungs, including fibrosis and the formation of cysts.
The European term “mucoviscidosis” (viscous mucus) takes into consideration the physiopathological aspects of the disease rather than the descriptive aspects. However, it does not include the disorder of the sudoriferous glands (sweat glands), which produce an abnormally saline (salty) sweat. The hyperviscosity of the mucus and the highly saline sweat are characteristic of the disease. On a cellular level, they result from the deficient transport of electrolytes (ions, especially chloride). These two aspects are fundamental to our understanding of the illness, and neither of the two terms takes this into account.
In conclusion, there is no perfect term, but mucoviscidosis could actually be the better term to describe this disease.