Atelectasis is a condition that happens when part or all of a lung collapses. This means the lung does not blow up to its normal size with each breath. It can happen if something presses on the lung or blocks the air flow inside it. It can also happen if something gets stuck in the tubes that carry air to the lungs and inside the lungs. Doctors call these tubes “airways.”
Atelectasis can cause breathing problems. A person with atelectasis might not get enough oxygen in their blood.
What are the symptoms of atelectasis? Atelectasis does not always cause symptoms. If it does, the symptoms can include:
●Breathing problems – A person with atelectasis might struggle to breathe. They might not be able to take a deep breath.
●Skin or lips that look blue – This can be a sign of not getting enough oxygen in the blood.
Is there a test for atelectasis? Yes. The doctor or nurse will do an exam and chest X-ray. This can show if part or all of a lung has collapsed. It can also show which part of the lung and how much of it collapsed.
How is atelectasis treated? Treatments include:
●Medicines and other treatments for pneumonia or any other disease that is causing the atelectasis.
●Treatments to break up mucus in the lungs and get it out, if mucus is blocking the air flow – These can include:
•Medicines – Some medicines can be taken as pills, and others can be given with an inhaler.
•Airway clearance therapy – This can help atelectasis caused by mucus stuck in the lungs. It is sometimes called “chest physiotherapy.” There is more than one way to do this. For example, a physical therapist might thump the back to loosen mucus. Other ways involve using special devices. These include a vibrating bed, a vibrating vest, and devices a person can breathe into.
•Devices to help a person cough
•Sucking mucus out of the airway
●Other treatments. These can include:
•Oxygen – Given through a mask over the face or a tube into the nose
•Devices to help open the airway and lung – A person can wear a device that keeps the airway open called a “continuous positive airway pressure” (CPAP) machine.
•Surgery – If atelectasis is caused by something pressing on the lungs, such as a tumor or cyst, doctors can do surgery to take it out.