PCD: 5 Things You Should Know About This Rare Genetic Disorder


Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia, commonly referred to as PCD, is a rare, genetic disorder that attacks the tiny, hair-like structures that line the airways of a person's ears and sinuses. This causes infections in the lungs, ears, throat, and sinuses, and can pose many other health concerns.

MORE: Meet the 10-Year-Old Author & Activist Living with PCD

Ahead, learn more about the disease — it's symptoms, risk factors, and prevalence amongst Latinas.

1. The symptoms start at birth.

Typically, PCD symptoms are detected early on – at birth or in early childhood – but persist thoughout the course of the person's life. Oftentimes, a "wet cough" happens at a young age, which has mucus production that lasts for a long time, constant pneumonia and chest colds, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chronic ear/nose infections.

2. It's hereditary. 

Genetics are a major player when it comes to PCD. A person is at risk if one or both of their parents have PCD gene abnormalities. Other risk factors include recurrent lung infections or other bronchial issues.

3. The risk factors are mostly environmental.

Aside from genetics, many other factors can contribute to PCD development. Of course, not smoking is a major way to reduce your risk of PCD. Others include getting regular exercise, eating healthy, getting appropriate vaccines, and keeping away from those with chest and cold infections.

4. It's extremely rare.

It's important to understand just how rare this disease is: Currently, its prevalence stands at about 1 per 100,000 births, and affects all races and genders equally.

5. It's often compared to other disorders.

The disease is often compared to asthma, smoking-related COPD, and chronic bronchitis, much due to their similar symptoms. Though not curable, there are treatments for the disease which include antibiotics for infections and airway clearance techniques.